Saturday, March 13, 2010

Opening Up

A couple of years (yes, years) ago, I posted a couple of blogs about vulnerability.

As I've grown up, I've had a curious pendulum swing with "vulnerability". As a college freshman, dealing with the stress of moving away from home, friend drama and homework, being vulnerable meant crying. A Lot. I would pour my tearful angst-ridden woes out and think to myself, "I can sense that this is not bringing people closer to me.... but I'm BEING VULNERABLE!"

In reality, I was probably depressed and whiny. Both completely curable. And the things that I thought were bringing me closer to friends were actually pushing me away from authentic relationships.

It took all four years of my college career and a couple of years out in adulthood to understand that, but not before swinging to the other end of the spectrum, to a time I like to call, "the time of not talking to anyone about anything."

During that time, everything, even when it was terrible, was "fine" or "good." Granted, during that time, during some more bad drama and other issues, I had been told by friends (and several others) that, "we don't want to hear the bad," and the message that I took from that was no matter the problem, or the issue I was facing, I needed to not talk about it or "man-up" and deal with it, and still keep smiling, even if that was not how I was feeling.

While that made things better on the surface, it was still incredibly lonely and frustrating. While it made for easier friendships and relationships, the depth of true friendship was missing.

These last couple of years (and mostly the last 18 months or so,) I feel like I may be getting the hang of what it means to be vulnerable--not the whiny, depressed "vulnerable" of the college student Hannah and not the walled-off cheerfulness that hid the real me--but a me that is honest with who I am, what my limitations are, and the struggles and joys that I'm experiencing and how to share that with others... And it's taken true friends that have chosen to love me in spite of/because of all of that.

In an effort to live as someone who is truly open, I've noticed that it also means doing the hard things that I don't necessarily want to do. It's saying things that need to be said, putting myself in situations that can be challenging, but better in the long run and being "honestly Hannah" in all circumstances, quirks and all. And it's infinitely better than either side of the pendulum.