Vulnerability 101

IMG_0075I do this thing. Whenever I meet people for the first time I have this act that I put on. It’s sort of hard to explain, but I have this weird way of talking and I hesitate giving my opinion, mainly because I’m wondering what it is that the person wants to hear. It’s safe to say that in those moments I am anything but my authentic self. Sometimes I hear myself talking and I think to myself “Who IS this person?” Sometimes I can snap myself out of it, but often the more I want to impress someone the more I do it. The thing is, it’s like trying to sell someone a diamond by showing them a piece of glass – seriously, no one is convinced!

You may have read my previous post about going to Gwinganna. When I booked it I thought that the only comfort zone challenge I was going to have was shelling out the cash. Yeah baby, I thought, it’s all foot massages and sunning myself by the pool from here on. Umm, yeah, about that….

A few days into the Gwinganna experience they announced that one of the activities that morning was ‘Tribal’. I’d heard from a lot of the returning guests that Tribal was one of the best activities of the retreat, and it involved dancing, so I was sold pretty early on. So naively I headed over to the Pavilion where Tribal was being held. I chatted to everyone, thankfully less painfully than the girl in the first paragraph, but I definitely still had on my protective armour. We got started and it was SO much fun! The energy in the room was great. While some people held back to begin with, by the end everyone was smiling and going crazy with their dance moves. It was exhausting but exhilarating. Sounds great right? Definitely not out of my comfort zone yet.

Then it happened. Our Tribal ‘leader’ slowed the pace, we started moving slower and slower until eventually we moved out bodies to the floor and just lay there, releasing all the energy of the last hour and a half. He led us into a meditation and I felt myself just… letting go. Letting go of expectations – mine and other peoples; letting go of fears – of not being likeable, of not being enough; I let go of the stories that I had been telling myself about who I was, and who I wasn’t. It really is a very difficult thing to explain, but being in that meditative state I was able to let go of these things that were holding me down and it felt like such a relief. It was such a relief that I started to cry, the tears just kept coming. They were streaming uncontrollably from my eyes – who knew you could cry with your eyes closed? But it felt good, it felt SO good. The not-so-good part (read: really freaking uncomfortable part) came when then meditation finished and we had to stand up to face the room.

I stood up, with my face firmly down to hide the by now very obvious signs of crying – you know, the really attractive red blotches and snot dripping out your nose. Oh-so-glamorous. We stood in the circle and all I felt was an overwhelming urge to run. To run as far away as I could get, to splash cold water on my face and ‘snap myself out of it’. The urge was SO strong, but I held my ground, but not quite ready to look up. And of course the point was to look up, to allow yourself to feel and share whatever raw emotion you were feeling with the people in the room, that you look into someone else’s eyes and, more importantly, that you allow them to look into yours. Allow them to see the real you, to see your fears, your insecurities, your imperfections.

Despite every urge in my being not to, I eventually managed to look up from my feet and across the room into the eyes of these people who I hadn’t known from a bar of soap just a few days ago. And not only did I see compassion and caring in their eyes, but I also saw them too. Each individual person, unique and scared and vulnerable. Yes, we are all different, but sometimes it takes moments like that to realize that we are all the same. At our core, we are all the same.

I felt a noticeable shift in the energy of the group after the Tribal experience. The whole group felt closer and more open with each other. I felt like I could drop my act of little miss perfect and just be me. The wonderful thing about it was that I truly felt like I connected with people more – although admittedly that was after taking a good few solitary hours in the bush to absorb what had happened.

I got a lot of clarity out of the Tribal experience, but probably the part that affected me the most, the message I most needed to hear was around what is probably my biggest insecurity: people liking me.   How can I expect people to like me if I don’t show them who I really am? I am starting to realize now that I am enough, exactly as I am. I don’t need to pretend to be someone else for people to like me. As long as I let my guard down and allow people to see who I really am then I give myself the opportunity to be loved.

Are you giving yourself the opportunity to be loved?


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