I never felt as though anything I could say to people about my past experiences was enough to be the epitome of wisdom – I second guessed myself every time I sat down to write. It was never about telling someone the wrong thing that has stopped me, but the fear that they will sit in judgement of me for all the sins I have committed.
In my mind, this will stop them from seeing me as the strong woman I am today and revert me to the lost girl I was when I made those mistakes. But I have learned to open up, be vulnerable, and let people see some of the messiness that comprises who I am today. And this stems to my personal mantra: I don’t have to be perfect to be worthwhile.
I’ve narrowed down how to accept myself to one step: giving myself permission to be less than perfect. Because that is what sharing your life with someone is all about. I am allowed to make choices people tell me not to or that end poorly. My actions after I fail are just as important as my actions after I succeed.
It seems cliche but it is important to remember: We are all a work in progress. Once we stop growing and learning, that is when we have to be concerned. It is okay if in the stories from your past, you don’t have that clearly defined “This is when I turned it around” moment. You are allowed to have tried something, failed, and still be in the process of learning how to make it better. You should share these experiences with people – they may be going through something similar and need a shoulder to lean into.
We are so afraid to be vulnerable, to not appear “strong,” but there is strength and beauty in vulnerability. Talking to people about your wants, needs, fears, and anxieties are just as important as talking to them about your goals, accomplishments, and successes. If people are unaware that you are grieving, lost, or upset, they cannot help you. It is hard to show vulnerability, but there will be someone who wants to share every aspect of your life with you – even if it is rough around the edges.
It can be hard and terrifying to be in the middle of your journey. But the people in your life that judge you based on your past don’t deserve to be in your future. It is the people who take your hand after you reveal your struggles and tell you that they understand you better and want to learn even more about you that deserve to be in your life. When you find someone who treats you with the respect you deserve, no matter what is in your past or what you are currently going through, those are the people you keep close and never let go.
Practising vulnerability can be difficult and it takes time. It won’t be something that everyone finds easy or comes naturally to them. But taking time with friends that you trust and saying “I am in need of help” can work wonders for your mental health. By dismissing your needs in your own head, you will continue to believe your problems aren’t worthwhile or important until you see yourself as a burden. Remember: you are worth the space you take up in this world.
I have taken steps to breaking down my walls that have made me closed off from people. But I’m still not perfect. And every time I let someone see a little more of me, I worry they will only see me as the scared, lost person I was when I made the mistakes of my past.
Some people have disappointed me, but I realised I needed to let go of those people because they didn’t value me as a person. Sometimes it took multiple tries to let toxic people go – some of them I am still trying to. I am not yet the person I intend to be, but I am working towards it. And I know that I will never be “perfect,” but I can be the best version of me possible. That’s enough for me.