I walked down to the beach yesterday…
It’s something I don’t do nearly enough given my close proximity to it. I spread out my towel, plopped myself down, and let the sun start warming up my skin. I could hear the waves of the Pacific Ocean rolling in. I could smell the salt air. I looked out on what is truly, a spectacular view…
And I started cry.
This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve had so many opportunities. Opportunities that many people never get to experience. I live in a town that looks like it could be on a Hollywood back lot… with a beach. I should be feeling pretty good. Because life is good. Instead, I felt empty and cold. I let feelings of negativity fill my mind. I have no idea what I want to do next professionally and it’s starting to freak me out. Another article I’d written… rejected. I put myself out there again for someone and I’m really confused.
I felt alone and very vulnerable.
I thought about how many more failures I would have to experience before I started to feel “more enlightened” like all the self-help books say. How many more times I’m going to be willing risk letting myself be seen by someone.
You get the idea. I had a pretty spectacular pity party. And then went home, opened a bottle of wine, and beat myself up FOR feeling sorry for myself. Because I should be better than that. Right?!?
Not so much. And I know that… most days, when I’m not having a pity party, on a beautiful Southern California beach on a sunny day in a town that looks like a Hollywood back lot.
But this is the world we live in. The one in which we pretend everything is always okay. We broadcast idealized images of ourselves, and then compare ourselves with the idealized images of other people and feel like we don’t measure up. We let ourselves believe it’s not okay to admit our failures and our passions. Instead, we act invincible…like nothing can ever hurt us. We hide by getting lost in work, our families, or our friends. We distract ourselves with Facebook and Twitter. I get it. I’ve done it too. They can all be nice shields to hide behind.
Being honest about everything you feel is tough, and sometimes it hurts. A LOT. Still, I think its more painful to hide your pain inside – to watch the person you love, or the place you want to be from a distance...because you’re trapped. Trapped by your fears about the possibilities of heartbreak and pain.
I rediscovered a quote the other day by Theodore Roosevelt from a famous speech he gave in 1910. I’m glad I did, because I needed a little smack in the face yesterday and today as I kept my pity party going.
Anyone who enters The Arena of life is going to get their ass kicked. That’s just the way it is. Life will take whatever it can from you if you let it. It’ll steal your dreams, it’ll change your priorities, it’ll crush your ideas of romance. But if you decide to numb all of your anxieties and pretend to feel nothing… you’ll miss out on what makes us human. And I think that’s vulnerability.
There are a lot of definitions of vulnerability out there. But this is what I think it is. Vulnerability isn’t about being cool. It’s not about Facebook likes and making everything seem okay. It’s about telling the truth – YOUR truth… from the bottom of your heart, because you want to do it. It means saying and doing exactly what you feel, even if you potentially leave yourself with nothing. It’s about doing things with your heart and with honesty. It’s about celebrating those fleeting moments in time, loving someone fiercely, and fully engaging in a life that doesn’t come with any guarantees. It’s about letting yourself be seen, and that can be terrifying… because there are a lot of risks involved when you do that, and often pain too. But is it as terrifying as getting to the end of your life only to realize you’ve never bothered to show up?
Too many people today are afraid of real feelings and that makes me sad. Connection is why we are here. We’re hardwired for it. It gives meaning and purpose to life. Too many people don’t chase love or passion anymore, probably out of fear – fear of looking stupid, fear of failure, fear of rejection. I know a lot of people who are miserable because they aren’t being true to themselves. I’ve been there.
Be vulnerable. Tell someone the truth. Say how you feel. Chase your dream. Don’t just be an observer in your own life. Show up. Be seen. It takes a lot of guts to do that… but each time you do, it gets a little easier. That’s what I’m starting to figure out, anyway.
Why do we fall?
Day by day. Step by step. I become a little more unbroken. And even though I still fall. I fall a lot… I fall forward. Then I pick myself up. I’m in The Arena. Join me.