The women that come to me for help are always very similar. They’re smart, high-achieving and if you met her, you’d think she has a great life. She’s busy and being pulled in many different directions. She feels like she blinked and turned 30…then 40…and maybe closing in on 50. She’s looked around and realized how hard she’s worked for everything she’s got, but deep down feels
Maybe you are her.
When I asked you all, my YKAL community to tell me what you’re struggling with, so many of you said isolation. I gave this scenario: You don’t reach out for help when you need it or even when you’re in crisis. I imagine you want to, but you think to yourself, “No one wants to hear about my problems.”. Or, “(Insert friend’s name) doesn’t have these issues, I’m too embarrassed to tell her.” Or, “I can deal with this on my own. I’ll just power through it.”
And you know why this happens? Because reaching out requires vulnerability and vulnerability is scary. Really fucking scary. We might get brushed off or rejected, or we might get judged or critisized (sometimes silently, but we feel it). Simply put— we might not get what we need from another human being, it’s too risky and exposes too much of our heart, so we stay silent.
Brené Brown teaches us when it comes to vulnerability and sharing our story, it’s about connecting with the right person at the right time about the right issue. And this takes thought and intention on our part. Who are the right people in your life? Do you even have them? Do you need to do a “clean up” of your friendships and work on intentionally nurturing one or two of them that you have currently?
And on the other side of that same coin, what I hear a lot from my community is that they feel like they are spread so thin in their lives and it bleeds over in their friendships. In my Daring Way™ group program, one of my participants, Ana said, “I feel like if I don't show up fully with all my friends, if I don't give them everything I have, then I'm failing as a friend.” So, most of us won’t reach out to our friends, but we feel the need to be the pillar of support to everyone else.
The intense pressure we put on ourselves blows my mind. Can you imagine being all things to all people in your life? Partner, kids, co-workers, friends, neighbors, parents, siblings, OMG I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Courage is scary. Why? Because when we’re faced with a decision to practice courage— in this case the decision to reach out for help or the decision to stay silent and isolated— they are both dreadful outcomes. (I know “dreadful” is pretty dramatic, but it’s your life, and you, my dear ass kicker, are worth me getting all dramatic about.) On one hand you’re risking emotional exposure by reaching out. On the other hand you’re risking feeling lonely and isolated, which leads to more crappy behaviors (numbing, negative self-talk, feeling unworthy), which in turn leads to more isolation. Both are hard, you’ve just gotten comfortable with the latter.
I’m not asking you to call up your friends and start pouring out all your problems. I want you to just think about it. Do you want to get to the end of your life and regret not finding your soul-sisters? Or regret not nurturing the relationship with a friend you have now? I am fully convinced that we all want two main things in life: LOVE and CONNECTION. And to have that, we must, and I mean must, step into vulnerability. We must practice courage by learning to hear our inner-critic but choosing a different way of speaking to ourselves. We must practice courage by looking over the walls we have built up to “protect” ourselves and venturing through them to try and connect. We must practice courage by getting these things wrong, circling back and trying again.
Because we’re all imperfect. Your personal development journey is imperfect and going to be filled with mis-steps and failures. But, I promise you, I promise that once you get started, you’ll gain momentum and confidence. And I promise you that you’re not alone. I promise you that there are hundreds, possibly thousands of women reading this that are just like you and that are afraid. And I promise you that by practicing vulnerability will get you the love and connection you so truly want and deserve.