Personal Growth

A Tall Order of Emotional Vulnerability with a Side of Introversion

Ihave created a false sense of vulnerability in my life. I am a forgery. A fake open book. It took me until starting this blog to realize that. I fooled myself by being abnormally comfortable with situational vulnerability than most. Publishing a personal tale of my gastrointestinal issues didn’t phase me. I didn’t stop to think twice before sharing my experience with COVID-19. These conversations are easy to have.

On the other hand, the nitty-gritty emotional stuff, I tend to keep under lock and key. It took months of feeling sad and lonely to finally admit to my friends and family that I was having a really hard time adjusting to post-grad life. I am a feeling stuffer, hider, controller. I work through emotions alone. The more I am struggling, the more time I spend alone. It’s a very introverted thing of me to do, and while I eventually process my emotions, I don’t allow my loved ones to help me potentially work through things more quickly. It makes for lonely terrain.

I even tend to keep hobbies and interests to myself. Maybe it is fear of rejection, embarrassment, annoyance. Perhaps it is just introversion. Introverts out there, do you subconsciously hide things about yourselves as well? 

Recently, it has started to bother me how much time I spend in my own head. How much of me only exists inside of my thoughts or to a teeny tiny inner circle of Austin and Remi, sometimes my parents and sister.

 

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And it dawned on me that identity becomes such a slippery thing the older we get. With each year, more expectations of acceptability are piled on. The archetypes we are expected to occupy leave less and less room for our true forms.

 

And it dawned on me that identity becomes such a slippery thing the older we get. With each year, more expectations of acceptability are piled on. The archetypes we are expected to occupy leave less and less room for our true forms.

We steer closer to conformity and normalcy. 

At work, we are professional and accommodating. In our friendships, we offer advice and try our best to not be overbearing or overburdening. To our family, we paint a peachy picture of having it figured out. On a resume, we read out only our most salient skills and experiences. On social media, we are perfectly posed and madly in love and keeping our sh*t together all at once. 

But when do we give ourselves the space to be ourselves? In full-spectrum color and all dimensions. Unabridged and unadulterated. 

 

The reality of feeling misunderstood

It is so self contrived that we feel misunderstood by the world. Rather than being rooted in our sparkling individuality, I think feeling known comes down to an issue of communication and vulnerability.

The human experience shares too many common threads to believe that every feeling you feel is unique. Being understood is much more about showing and telling the outer world who you are inside. Nobody you encounter will know your interests, feelings, hopes, and dreams if you do not tell them. 

And take it from someone who gets insecure and constantly wonders why others don’t see me the same way I see me. I have started to realize that much of it is self-imposed. I lack vulnerability and openness with friends, family, and strangers.

I especially struggle to communicate personal and vulnerable information in a workplace setting. I had a conversation with a coworker the other day that stirred this train of thought. His advice to someone starting their career and hoping to move into more challenging roles is to tell people you are interested. Express to people that you have a particular skill set and would like to work on more projects. Otherwise, they simply will not know. 

And this made so much sense. Of course, my manager doesn’t know that I want to take on more creative projects. I have never told him out loud. How else would he know that I love to write and create in my free time? That I have intermittently taught myself to code? 

The only person who knows you omnisciently is you. 

I think once that sinks in, it helps with this pressure of perception. People only get to see whatever you reveal to them.

 


Struggles with vulnerability

Vulnerability is difficult, especially to those who keep a small circle or pride their privacy. Lately, my lack of vulnerability compounded by introversion has really been biting me in the butt. 

  • Drafts and drafts of writing that will never be read by anyone other than yours truly if I don’t find the gall to hit publish
  • Not being thought of for work projects my (hidden) skills are quite suited for
  • Feeling disconnected, overlooked, and only partially seen by friends
  • Fear of taking risks at the chance of new opportunities

And I know I’m not alone. I asked you all on my Instagram to share little known things about you. There were so many commonalities in your responses.

Masking true introversion with extroversion, mental health struggles, histories of abuse, lofty goals, niche hobbies.

Why don’t these things make it to the surface? Why do we keep these things to ourselves? There are so many complex reasons. It seems a lot of it stems from fear. Fear of being rejected by peers. Fear of judgement. Fear of not being interesting enough. 

And for all of your struggles, insecurities, and obscure interests, please know that I see you and I hear you. Perhaps others should too.

 

Speaking your truths

You don’t have to yell it loudly, and you certainly don’t have to preach it to the masses. But your truths are your truths. 

“Speak the truth even if your voice shakes”. 

There is power in emotional vulnerability and openness. It connects us to our world of friends, family, strangers, and coworkers. We share far too much in this human experience to feel alone. 

It may not come naturally to you, but maybe the world needs to hear what you’re going through. Others might find solidarity in your struggles. Perhaps your younger self would have benefitted from others speaking more boldly about niche and “weird” interests. 

In return, the things you hope for might come true a little quicker if you let others in on it. Allow your walls to crumble and others to help you and hear you. 

And if you promise to strive towards vulnerability, I promise to try as well. No matter how much my voice shakes. No matter how much fear of rejection stands in my way. I hope for this space to continue to be safe and uplifting. New things are coming soon my friends. As always, thank you for accompanying me on this journey through life. 

xx Mich

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