Source: Feel It. Share It. Live It.
I’m a habitual hider. It’s not uncommon for me to apply for a job and go through multiple rounds of interviews before even mentioning to my husband that I’ve thrown my name in the hat. I wait until articles are accepted for publication before telling my family that I’ve even submitted them for review. I withhold all kinds of personal and professional details about my life from the people I love, so that just in case things don’t work out, I don’t have to share my embarrassment, disappointment, and shame.
In other words, my go-to defense mechanism is avoiding vulnerability like the plague.
I have a hard time embracing potential exciting stuff in fear of discouraging stuff. I struggle to ever feel fully hopeful because in the back of my mind remains a little nagging voice reminding me: this could all be taken away. Nothing is permanent. Don’t get too high in fear of hitting low. Reject excitement, because someday this pleasure may become pain.
Avoid elation, avoid despair.
Except, the problem is: life doesn’t work that way.
Loss, setbacks, disappointment, and failure are inevitable. At one point in time or another, they will happen. Not because we deserve them, or because we’ve done anything wrong, or because, of course, the other shoe has to drop. But because without reason, planning, doing, or fault, they are, quite simply, part of the journey.
Joy, on the other hand: the real, unrestricted, or fear of what’s to come kind of joy…well, I think that’s optional. It’s our choice to experience, embrace, and let it into our lives.
And that type of joy can feel hard. Scary. Overwhelming. Because, what will happen when the pain rides in? How will we deal with hardship when we’ve willingly opened ourselves up to love and gratitude? How can we handle the pain of rock bottom when we’ve just given ourselves permission to feel good? The honeymoon is going to end, right? So why go all the way up to the top, knowing we’ll have to come back down?
Come to think of it, maybe that’s actually our biggest incentive to start appreciating the good stuff right now.
Not because life will always be the way it is, but because someday, it won’t.
So, we may as well start leaning in, savoring moments, relishing in relationships, and delighting in remarkable experiences. Because the last thing we’ll want to do is look back wishing we’d allowed ourselves to get excited over new possibilities, and dive into uncertainty, and laugh until we cried, and appreciate our sometimes mundane, and sometimes messy, lives.
We’re strong enough to handle pain. I know it, because we’ve done it. We do it every day. We endure loss, and disappointment, and grief, and we keep going.
Let’s go one step further and trust that we’re strong enough to handle hope and happiness, too. And then since that hope and happiness, paired with fear and pain can feel like a lot to hold and handle alone, let’s let one another into our lives. Let’s see that our greatest strength comes in knowing we don’t have to carry our burdens or celebrate our joy in isolation, away from the rest of the world.
Let’s be brave enough to show up and share our full story. The whole thing. Because that’s living. And after all, isn’t that why we’re here?