Man, the idea of being open or vulnerable is a hard concept. Mainly because when you hear people talking about being open, it always has a negative tone. It sounds dangerous to let your guard down and to let others into your life. The very definition of being vulnerable is to be susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. So why would we want to do this again? There are some benefits that I’ll share with you later.
I've had my fair share of open season and it has not always been a good experience. I've also witnessed people around me trying to be vulnerable. And well, I wasn’t convinced that it was the thing that I should do. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
It wasn’t until I was a little older and started noticing how my closedness (I might have made that word up, lol) had an impact on my relationships. Friendships, love relationships, everything! They weren’t at superficial status, but they also weren’t at their max potential. And to be honest, the only person that wasn’t benefiting from these relationships was me. I like to pride myself on being a good listener and was so blessed to have others, come and confide in me. But when it came to confiding and sharing on my side, well I only gave people a portion. Fear set in, despair, feeling like one day someone was going to use that against me so I chose to keep a lot of things to myself. Perhaps, other’s noticed it, but no one noticed more than me. I felt lonely, empty inside.
I wanted to make changes, I wanted to feel the closeness and connection that apparently other people felt about me. I remember sitting down with a dear friend of mine at work and talking about life. She shared some very delicate things with me and then I thought, hmmm, maybe I’ll try it too. And I did, I shared something about myself that she did not know about. Turns out it wasn’t horrible at all. It made me feel better.
That moment forward, I had to shift my thoughts about being vulnerable. THERE REALLY IS STRENGTH IN VULNERABILITY!! At that moment, I was able to truly embrace myself and my journey. And it was great to see that the people who are apart of my support system, lift me up and encourage me. Relationships started feeling much more equal. It’s incredible to have people in my life who are willing to see me unmasked and yet, don’t want to hurt or criticize me. It’s good to know that I can be me no matter what state I’m in.
Now I have the courage to move forward in life and embrace my flaws, errors and mistakes, knowing that I don’t have to keep them from everyone. I love the fact that I have people that I’m connected to that will embrace those flaws as well and help me to push forward, even on days when I don’t want to. I love connecting with people that maybe share similar stories as I have and we press forward together. That’s Empowering. That’s Strength. That’s Open Season.
I’d be very dishonest if I said that this is easy. It’s not, it’s a constant struggle that I work on daily. However I know that the reward is much greater. You'll feel good about yourself. You'll find that your relationships are much closer and connected. You'll learn to conquer fears you didn't think that you could. It's worth a try!
Here’s a few tips on how to embrace open season:
1. Own who you are! The good, the bad, the ugly, all of it! When you know, know who you are (I said it twice, lol), then it's less likely that others can hurt you with what you already know.
2. Identify a good support system. Generally, these people are always in your corner no matter what. If you share your deepest darkest moment and they haven’t run away, judged you or used that against you, chances are they are here to stay and want to see you win.
3. Take your time, vulnerability doesn’t require you to share everything too quickly. I like to think of being vulnerable as a baby learning to walk. A few steps will eventually get to a full sprint.
4. You don’t have to share everything but be comfortable enough to reciprocate your emotions and feelings to the person who thought you safe enough to share their thoughts and feelings.