We feel lonely even when we aren’t alone because of one factor, connection. We don’t actually know the people we know, and they don’t know us either. It’s like having a half-colored circle, where the white space is the missing link of connection. Only when a circle is colored in full is when it can become a shape of its own. A half-colored circle is a connection built on half of who we really are. Just like a colored circle, it’s only when we share who we really are that a connection stands on its own.
I used to be super vulnerable, and super open, and I would self-proclaim myself as an oversharer. I said it proudly. Now, I say it in defeat. I now know what it means to feel damaged from oversharing.
Now, I have past pain that lingers at the thought of vulnerability. I opened up to someone who was so open to everything I said. I shared with them the intricacies of my mind and they did the same. We both filled our internal marble jars with the intimate sides of who we are. It felt like we built the marble collection together, but it eventually backfired.
Somehow the jars cracked and the marbles spilled. The things I thought they understood, they didn’t. Where at the moment it felt beautiful, now it sits as a painful memory. Now, I’m the guy who has the thoughts..
“vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first I look for in you.”
Where I used to take the leap to make the other person feel comfortable to open up, I feel like the one who needs a sense of safety before I do. But the other day I wrote a reminder to myself:
“If you aren’t truly yourself, you will never get what is actually meant for you. You might get what you want, but it won’t feel true to your soul.”
When you have an experience that backfires because you were being who you are, let it be. Life becomes painful when we create stories in our heads and work so hard to make them true. We usually build these stories on tangents of who we think we are, not who we actually are.
Let the things that aren’t meant to be, be. Your attempts to protect yourself from your problems actually create more problems. If you attempt to arrange people, places, and things so they don’t disturb you, it will begin to feel like life is against you. It feels painful to think about the times we were vulnerable and got hurt.
It hurts because of the trust we thought was there. We opened our hearts to reciprocate loving energy, only to close it off from pain. The person we let it out to became the reason we now keep it in. In my case, it feels like I have built up so much evidence that I should just keep things in.
It feels like I get confirmation even from my bros, where I think “Yeah I’m just going to keep it to myself.” But the truth is our minds lie. When we want something to be true, we look for ways to make it true. When I want to believe that vulnerability leads to pain, I find reasons that make this belief true.
I anchor my mind to specific events that prove it, but I neglect the times when it didn’t. I remember the feeling of being in the moment, eye to eye, heart to heart, with the very memory that now leads to this belief that vulnerability is bad. But I forget all the other times when it grew a bond to a whole new level. I forget the times when just one vulnerable conversation led to a new level of deeper connection.
The problem is I’ve conditioned myself to open up when it feels comfortable, but we all know that the only way to truly grow is in the discomfort we feel. If our comfort zones are the confinements of what keeps us the same, this means it would only be right to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability. Maybe it’s shrunk so small you feel like you are in a ball with no room at all, where you step one foot out and immediately step back in. It isn’t about normalizing vulnerability, it’s about normalizing the discomfort that comes from it.
When you get drawn into your disturbed energy, things that looked beautiful now look ugly. Things you liked, now look dark and depressing. But nothing has really changed. It’s just that you’re looking at life from that lense of disturbance. That same vulnerability that leads to beautiful moments is the same vulnerability that leads to pain. But this pain is the price of freedom.
If you are doing something to avoid pain, then pain is running your life. When you’re lonely, you find yourself pondering what to do about your loneliness. What is it that you can say or do in order to not feel so lonely? Notice that you aren’t asking how to get rid of the problem; you’re asking how to protect yourself from feeling it.
It’s like keeping a thorn in our hand, then modifying our life around the thorn. We make sure nothing touches it. We make sure to cover it. We make sure that we keep life out of its way. But, what if we just took the thorn out? We are lonely because we don't have, strong, genuine connections. We can only build these kinds of connections when we are vulnerable. Eventually, you will understand that there is an ocean of love behind all of this fear and pain.
- Stain (co-founder)