“Being vulnerable feels dangerous and I think it feels scary and I think it is terrifying but I don’t think it’s as dangerous, scary or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and wondering, ‘What if I would have shown up?’” ~ Brené Brown
I had spent so much of my life hiding, trying to fit in, to blend in with those I wanted to accept me, to like me. I would change something about myself, how I interacted, how I dressed, my tone of voice ~ all trying to do whatever it might be that got people to notice me, accept me, let me be a part of their group. After awhile it got harder and harder to get in touch with what I really felt, or what I believed or what my opinion was about something. I often held myself back, didn’t speak up fully, held back parts of me…I would watch to see in what direction the conversation was going and either followed along or stayed quiet in hopes of avoiding conflict or disapproval. I stayed small so I could survive…and not be cast out, all alone.
I have compromised my values and my integrity, gone along as others were negatively impacted by comments and decisions…stayed quiet while I was hurt by comments and decisions. I traded my integrity and inner truth for acceptance and belonging, or actually, for the illusion of being accepted and fitting in.
This morning I was struck by Brené Brown’s question, “What if I had shown up?” What if I had shown up for myself each time I experienced belittling or shaming situations? What if I showed up every time others were experiencing negative treatment or exclusion? Speaking up, being vulnerable can feel scary and sometimes dangerous, as she says. But carrying the burden of knowing what I could have said or done, of who I could have been, and all the positive impact I could have had ~ the weight of that feels too heavy to bear. As I speak my truth to power I know I may lose friends and connections, but oh, the joy of discovering my true self!