There is a universal arc over which all lives travel; everyone’s experience is unique, yet there are private struggles we don’t reveal that are more common than we know. Instead, we suffer alone, afraid to acknowledge what we are going through for fear that we will be rejected by others we care about. These are the fears of a child, because that’s when we learned them. They are not the fears of a rational, mature adult who has achieved a state of self-acceptance and gained an understanding of the way the world works.
Here is a fundamental truth I have learned at the age of 61: Everyone experiences shame and everyone feels vulnerable. But those who are open and comfortable with themselves, flawed though they may be, are not shunned – they are the most charismatic. Their honesty and comfort in acknowledging their vulnerability makes them magnetic. Instead of people turning away they are drawn to them like moths to a flame.
Here is the interesting paradox – it takes bravery to live like this, because we’ve all been hurt and rejected, and nobody wants to experience that if they can prevent it. Unfortunately, our desire to protect ourselves ends up accomplishing the exact opposite of what we intended. Instead of protecting us, it isolates us, pushing others away because we are afraid to reveal who we are.
The big question is: How much do you want to reveal? Because this isn’t an all or nothing proposition, you don’t have to reveal everything all the time. But if you really want to connect with and help others, you need to be as honest and genuine as you can muster.
Your fear might be the thing that’s holding you back.