Thursday, January 17, 2013

On Staying Vulnerable

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I find it funny that as kids and teenagers, we live for so long with our emotions so close to the surface that the slightest brush can be all it takes to bring them bubbling over.
As adults, it seems like one of the biggest parts of growing up is learning how to bury all of it a little further down, so we can pretend to be OK when we aren't, say we're not hurt or angry when we are, and do what we have to in order to keep the peace.
I understand that this is essential to a certain extent, and I understand that time can not always be afforded to drag every feeling and every issue out into the light and take care of it.
But sometimes I wonder where the line should be.
Lately I'm seeing posts on almost every blog I read about staying vulnerable in blogging. The authors all seem to struggle in one way or another with knowing how much to share. If you only share the good stuff, you seem like you're trying to portray the perfect life, and then no one can relate to you. If you share all the bad stuff, you are a compulsive Debby Downer who no one can stand.
Even outside of blogging, what is the right balance?
And even outside of sharing what moves you or hurts you, after you've been moved or hurt or betrayed too many times in your adult life, how do you keep from burrying that soft, sensitive part of yourself so deep down, that there is almost no vulnerability left in you anymore at all?
Isn't sensitivity and the capacity for emotion essential, even if that means you have to accept a certain amount of heartbreak and disappointment too?
I am a highly emotional person.
I typically err on the side of letting my emotions show pretty freely, because trying to know what to keep in and what to supress, and what to let effect me and what to block out can get overwhelming, and downright exhausting.
All my life I've heard opinions about this from both ends of the spectrum. For instance, I had a "friend" once who said that people find it hard to like me because I don't hold back enough. I'm too honest about my feelings and emotions and opinions, and its off-putting. I've also had friends that went on and on about how they envied the "purity" of my emotions, saying they wish they could be more expressive.

In the end I don't think there's an absolute answer one way or another.
I think there are times and places when 100% transparency about your life and feelings and whatever else, is appropriate, and times when you should be a little more private.
But I think we all deserve some grace in both areas, and understanding that in the end we're still the same emotional beings we've always been, and keeping up the standard of adulthood by not oversharing isn't always possible.
And when it comes to how much we let move us, I vote that we make no apologies.
Don't apologize for being sensitive, or soft, even if some people think that makes you needy or clingy or too much to handle. Those people most likely aren't for you.
Feeling things is one of the surest signs you are alive, and at the end of the day, I think most of us would choose the sensitive over-feeler over the cold and emotionless robot, 9 times out of 10.

We all want to relate, and feel connected and understood and like there is some common thread that ties us all together, so that this big mess we call life can seem to have some kind of purpose.
How can any of us share that kind of essential intimacy if we're always shoving our feelings to the side and pretending to be fine?
Not too excited, not too upset, just middle of the road.
I don't know about you, but a middle of the road life just isn't worth living in my opinion.
Save mediocrity for things like reality TV and tapioca pudding.
When it comes to life and relationships, I want the good stuff.
Pain and all.


  1. Sarah,

    I like your posts a lot. I think people think too much sometimes... whether it's something exciting and happy or sad and tearful, I always know that when I read your stories, they are 100% you. That's cool -- it's reality in its most pure form. You don't hold back, and when you're angry or upset we know, and we know just as easily when you are excited and joyful, proud, and even sometimes lonely. No apologies needed for being who you are, and wanting to talk to someone / share it with some friends. Personally I think we should all give zero fucks about what other people think, especially on the internet, and I think you do that pretty damn well. Kudos.

    1. Thank you! If there's one thing I do well, its giving zero fucks, for sure ;-)