Admitting That You’re Scared Doesn’t Make You Weak. It Makes You Relatable.
As I sit down to write this I can feel my breath get shallow in my chest and my fingers get a little tingly. There is a voice in my head screaming don’t share this side of you because it’s not a side that anyone will like. So, know that, I’m choosing to feel my fear right now and do it anyway.
I had a couple of years (a couple of years ago) that were very difficult for me. I experienced a sadness and anxiety that I didn’t really know was possible and I was incredibly embarrassed to let my friends know much about what I was feeling. I did my best to isolate myself so nobody would see how scared and lost I felt. I thought people, including my closest friends who I’d known for 25+ years, would see a side of me that was ugly and they would want to stay as far away as possible. I’m fun Sharon with the bouncy curls and big smile. People started reaching out to me asking if I was ok and I retreated even further. The idea of exposing myself in a way that might make anyone else feel uncomfortable, because my emotions would be too much to handle, felt terrifying.
I found myself in my first therapy group with a bunch of other people who were scared and tearful too. Oddly enough the more that each person shared their story the more love and compassion I felt for them. My instinct to focus on supporting other people, at times as a way to distract anyone from asking about me, kicked in big time at first. Then the focus shifted to me. My hips were sore because I had been holding myself in a tight little ball for weeks, in the corner of the couch during our sessions, doing my best to “stay strong”. Then when I couldn’t take it any longer I decided to let them see my ugliness and weakness. Through my tears I talked about feeling lonely, lost and shameful.
Session after session people would tell me that seeing me messy, scared, and deeply sad made them like me even more. They felt less alone personally and more connected to me. Honestly, I couldn’t comprehend this for weeks, even though that’s how I felt about them. I just assumed that I was the exception to the rule.
The most amazing revelation for me was that I started to feel stronger the more I admitted that I felt scared. I was still able to be funny, smart, and strong while being open about the parts of me that felt uncomfortable.
I still find myself enjoying being in a position of support for others but I’m so much more comfortable sharing those sides of myself that are not as shiny and bright because I know that it might actually bring me closer with that person because they can relate.