Source: On “Social Introverts”
This is something I have struggled with my entire life. I am extremely cautious. It has held me back from doing many of the things I’ve wanted to do. I take days, months, and sometimes years weighing my options, pros and cons, what ifs, etc. I have just come to the point in my life where I feel a little more comfortable taking risks. I have learned to accept that challenges and mistakes are just a part of life and can also lead to very pleasant outcomes.Has this ever happened to you? You have a goal—an amazing goal—but fear of taking that leap catches you in the chest and you. just. can’t. If that sounds familiar, great! Not only are you in good company, but you’re likely on the right track. How to take action even when you’re scared We hear
I have very few friends and even fewer close friends. As an introvert I’ve always felt that was the reason for my small circle of friends. Recently, have been meeting lots of new people and forming many new relationships. I began to ask myself what was it about the few people I allow in my inner circle that sets them apart from others. Almost all of the people I’ve come into contact with have been very pleasant, but I’ve only formed meaningful and close relationships with very few. Usually those relationships progressed very quickly and I knew almost immediately after meeting those people that I wanted them to be a significant part of my life.
I believe instinctively I was able to tell the character of those people. What I would like to examine is how we can prevent a lot of heartache and disappointment by determining the difference between character and personality. I will first start with personality as it is the most superficial of the two. Personality can be very surface level. You can immediately tell if a person is outgoing or withdrawn, confident or insecure, etc. This distinctions should be judged as superficially as they are presented. They are not the true measure of a person’s character. A person have the best, most welcoming personality and also be a pathological liar.
Determining a person’s character takes close observation. You need to see what they value, and how they treat themselves and others. To truly value another person, one must first value oneself. I have found that although everyone has some level of insecurity, those who are confident and self-assured are some of the most genuine and caring people. Extreme insecurity often manifests itself in the way those extremely insecure people treat others and themselves. With a certain level of confidence and self-assurance comes the ability to be open and honest with others. Being confident does not mean that you do not feel that there is room for improvement in your life, it just means that you are able to recognize and accept the things you need to work on. When you are honest with yourself, you can be honest with others. There is nothing to hide or mask. With confidence comes vulnerability and vulnerability is the foundation of any good and lasting relationship.
Those who only operate on surface-level tend to be more inclined to hide their true intentions. These people tend to focus all their attention an efforts on creating a outward persona and not on a true development of their character. They are usually the ones who are wearing a mask and only concerned with how things on the outside appear. They feel the need to overcompensate with personality to make up what they are lacking in character. They lack the vulnerability to truly allow for a meaningful relationship, thus making it impossible to allow other people to know them authentically.
One of the important life lessons I have learned is there is power and happiness in vulnerability. Vulnerability in all areas of one’s life is liberating.
I was always the strong one in all of my relationships. For years I took pride in being the one who could seemingly handle anything. l was the one everyone ran to with their problems. I was the person everyone could count on when they were falling apart, but when I was going through a challenging situation, no one was there for me. If I began to talk with a friend or family member about something difficult that I was going through, I was brushed off. I was told things like, “If anyone can handle it, you can” or “I’m not worried about you. You are strong enough to handle it.” In reality, I wasn’t. When others assumed that I could weather any storm, I became resentful. Then I realized that I created those relationships and I taught my friends to expect only strength from me. I needed that same strong shoulder to cry on that I had so willingly given others. No one viewed me as vulnerable, and by being seemingly strong person, I had created one-sided relationships.
In every area of our lives we need the help, compassion, and love of others. I had mistaken vulnerability as weakness. Without being vulnerable, we create weak relationships and deny ourselves true and intimate connections. I have only recently embraced my vulnerability and by doing so, I have been greatly rewarded. By letting my guard down my friendships have gotten stronger. I am beginning to get the help and support that everyone needs in life. There is strength in being vulnerable.
In the next few posts I will continue to share how I have benefited from letting my guard down and being open to the help and support of others. I would like to challenge all of us to free ourselves from the burden of handling our own problems.
I believe that when most people think of vulnerability they think of weakness. I have recently learned that vulnerability is the single thing that can open the doors to so many rewarding possibilities in life. Can you truly love someone if they are afraid to be vulnerable? Can you truly be loved if you close of parts of yourself? By holding back we are blocking our blessings.
I worked with someone who was a habitual liar. This person lied about big things and small things. It was truly heartbreaking because this person had such a desire to belong and to be liked, but he was doing himself a disservice. There was absolutely no chance of anyone getting to know and appreciate him as a person because of his need to hide behind deception. Ultimately, this person lost his job over something he lied about. The mistake he made would not have gotten him fired, but the fact that he lied about it did. Had this person admitted his mistake, he would have gotten help, learned from his mistake, and possibly improved on his overall work performance. Not only that, he would have established some respect from his fellow workers.
In the past I have been afraid to be vulnerable. I was often told my many of my acquaintances how I initially seemed unapproachable. It wasn’t until they got to know me that they began to like me. I had no idea why anyone would have that perception of me. I later realized it wasn’t until I was comfortable that I allowed my guard to come down. I was not fully appreciated until I was vulnerable.
Vulnerability is power. When you let go of the fear of exposure and embrace everything about you wonderful things will happen. It is such a liberating experience. Imagine having to hide nothing. Accepting yourself and whatever you may perceive as flaws is true love and you should accept nothing less for yourself.
I would like to challenge all of us to take a good look at ourselves and ask ourselves if there is anything about us that we feel is in any way shameful or embarrassing and own it. We may want to change it, but it is still a part of us. Until we can make those changes we are still a valuable asset to society. We need to love ourselves in order to be loved in the way we deserve. Remember that we are all works in progress, but in order to progress we may need to tear down some walls and allow a little light to shine in.
― Criss Jami