Fear of Being Vulnerable
One of the most terrifying feelings is being vulnerable for others to see. Some of us have a hard time opening up and being our authentic selves with the people closest to us, so how would we ever be able to do it with people we do not know? When it came to the blog and a few other projects I am working on, I could not help but wonder what would be on the minds of everyone around me. Not only did I stress over what strangers or those not close to me would think, but also about what those who know me would think. No matter how extroverted and confident you are, there will always be feelings of “what if they don’t like me or what I share?”, “what if I am judged or they hold this against me?” or, my personal terror, “what if they know the real me?”. I want you to be encouraged that while those feelings are some of the most terrifying to overcome, they can be the most rewarding victories. There is so much liberty and peace in knowing that those feelings do not keep you bound in a place of fear; those feelings, when faced head on, can no longer keep you stuck in your comfort zone. As long as you evaluate yourself enough to understand these feelings are a hinderance for you, you can begin taking the first steps to leaving them behind for good. Do not let your own fears stop you from pursuing all that you can be.
“What if they know the real me?”. This fear is what kept me in bondage. This fear is a really hard pill to swallow because it is usually a fear you have of the people around you. This fear turned into anxiety and shame for me and it really pinned me against the people that I love. I began to question people’s intentions and their true feelings towards me because my feelings towards myself were so negative. I thought the “real” me was all the bad things about me. For example, October-December of 2019 was a really difficult time for my husband and I; our marriage struggled. In a time of vulnerability, we shared this struggle with those closest to us. This was fine at the time because they really helped us get through that season. However, as we outgrew those struggles and issues, the only thing I felt was regret and fear of being so vulnerable and over sharing. In my mind, it seemed like everyone around me knew too much of our business- our ugly business. They knew the struggles, the ups and downs and just too much for comfort. I began to doubt myself and who I was because I put on the identity of what I had shared as if one hardship made me who I was and made my husband who he was. The truth is, I was not worried about people knowing the “real me”, I was worried about them knowing the things that did not align with the “pretend me” I wanted everyone to see. I wanted them to only see my strong areas. I did not want people to know I was depressed and that my marriage had went through a rough time. I did not want people to know that I was irrational and that I needed help. Suddenly, I did not think I had what it took to start my blog, to mentor young people or anything else that has to do with my purpose because I thought everyone that knew the real me would think I was a fraud. I was so embarrassed by what I thought the people who knew the real me thought about me that I wished I had never shared that part of my life with anyone. People, this is a life of the enemy! Once I opened up and shared these feelings with friends, family and especially God, I began to see the truth. The people around me loved me for who I was, they did not change their minds about me and they appreciated the authenticity. This was what I needed to hear. I was loved for the real me. I did not have to put on a mask or feel ashamed for being imperfect. I knew my intentions of growth were genuine and only you know what your intentions are. You need to internalize the fact that the authentic you is the best you; love and accept that version of you and so will others. This fear dwells in us when we think others will only look at the worst parts of us because that is what we do to ourselves. Begin swapping out “what if they know the real me?” with “do I know the real me?” and then seek out the authentic you. The right people will find you.
“What if they don’t like me or what I share?”. This is the fear that typically arises when you have an insecurity with strangers or people that do not really know you. This is a normal fear to have and can keep you safe at times. However, this can also be the fear that keeps you from sharing all that you have to offer the world. Staying stuck in a place of worrying about being liked or accepted is a really easy way for you to not reach your full potential. You may have the wisdom or the witty invention that changes someone else’s life, but you are so scared of being rejected that you keep it to yourself. Often times, this fear is the furthest thing from the truth. The truth is, you and what you have to offer will be more than liked by someone. It will be loved, it will be needed and it will be life changing. There will always be people that do not like you or what you share with the world, but for those you were created to come across, it is pivotal for them that you be everything that you have to offer. Share your ideas and inventions, wear your atypical outfit, start your business. Begin swapping out “what if they don’t like me or what I share?” with “what if I am exactly what someone needs right this minute?” and then be everything you are scared to be. The right people will find you.
“What if I am judged or they hold this against me?”. This is the tricky one. This is the fear of all people: the ones that have known you forever, the ones who have never heard your name and all the ones in between. Somehow you let this idea into your mind that if you are vulnerable and allow the world to see a piece of who you are, they have leverage against you. Normally, this is the fear you use in hopes that you can spare yourself from heartbreak or embarrassment. You think if you close yourself off to the world and do not let anyone get too close, that you are exempt from heartache. This is typically where the people that brag about their lack of friendships and the satisfaction they have with that are really struggling. The truth is, everyone needs friends and has the desire to have friends. Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted. You just allow yourself to use the fear of someone knowing too much keep you from taking the risk of being vulnerable. This is probably the most isolating fear to have because it is easy to think you are doing yourself a favor until you look back and see all the opportunities you had to put yourself out there and change your life, judgement and all. You do not want to share your business or who you are in fear that someone will use that as emotional blackmail, but in reality, you are still the winner. You win when you accept yourself- the good, the bad, the baggage, the mistakes and everything else that comes with you. From this place of acceptance, you have the authority over who gets a say so in your life. You worry less about judgement and gossip and more about becoming the best you. And that process does not involve you shutting yourself out from the world; it involves you sharing yourself with it. Begin swapping out “what if I am judged or they hold this against me?” with “what do I need to do to be accepted by myself and how can I share that with others?” and then flaunt your best self to the world. The right people will find you.
The best thing we can do for ourselves when dealing with fear is seek God. There is only so much we can say to ourselves and hear from others before we realize we need a greater peace. God is the answer for that. His burden is light and we are able to cast our fears to Him. The scripture I want to leave you with today is Psalm 34: 4-5. The scripture says, “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”. God is really the ultimate gift giver. He has the ability and the desire to rid us of our fears and trade them for joy. We are not called to live in a place of fear or discouragement, and this scripture shows us that all we have to do is pray and God will move. We can have the most vulnerable conversations with God because He knows the depths of our heart. He has a plan for us that involves being the best version of ourselves. All the fears of vulnerability that I shared today are forms of bondage that stop us from getting to that place God has created. I love the part of the scripture that talks about how we will be radiant with joy and there will be no shame. That is extreme freedom. To be able to have radiant joy and no shame is a reward of God for seeking Him with our whole hearts. I am speaking to you and to myself: God can free us from all our fears. We have the authority over any lie we tell ourselves that keep us stuck. Maybe your fear is not a fear of vulnerability; maybe it is a fear of taking the next step or making a mistake or a big commitment. Whatever the fear is, God is bigger and He is able to trade that fear for joy. Seek God, seek the authentic you, be everything you are scared to be and then flaunt your best self to the world. The right people will find you.
Love and Joy,