Opening up is one of the scariest things you can possibly do in life. As we grow up and welcome maturity with opening yet trepid arms, we also begin to experience just how much people can hurt us and use our own personal secrets as weapons against us. We become hardened shells as we grow with age, conditioned to place multiple barriers between ourselves and the recipients of our love and affection and time.
Perhaps you’ve been hurt before, betrayed by the ones whom you gave everything to while they didn’t think twice before plunging that dagger deep into your back. Perhaps you feel as though your skeletons are too dark and too burdensome to open up about – that no one would understand the things you’re going through to be able to talk about it openly. Perhaps you’re terrified; terrified that if you were to open up, that you wouldn’t be able to stop and that you would have illuminated the darkest corners of yourself that no one else in the world had any idea about. Perhaps you feel that putting your best foot forward means always showing the best and happiest side of you, because anything less or darker or real would hit too close to home and you would end up with no one by your side. Perhaps you feel that you’re only being accepted because you put up a façade that nothing bothers you, because you’ve been led to believe flaws are the opposite of beautiful and anything flawed is deemed unacceptable.
Opening up is terrifying, but here’s the thing. It requires incredible courage to do so; it requires bravery of the most noble people to be able to shed their cloak of pride and be vulnerable. It takes placing an immense depth of trust in someone else to be able to not only open up about your past and your flaws and your fears, but to also have faith that they are accepting, nurturing and kind about everything that has ever made you, you.
Here’s why opening up is so difficult – and know that you’re not alone in this. Opening up means presenting to someone else your entire life on a silver platter for them to dissect, analyze, scrutinize and judge. It means gently unfolding the creases of your heart and showing someone where you’ve been hurt, how you’ve been wounded and how much you have bled. It means showing someone the scars that are still healing and handing them the sword that dealt the damage, in the hopes they would sheath the blade rather than be the one to wield the weapon. It means taking a wrecking ball and crumbling the tower of walls you have built around yourself to keep the skeletons in their closets and to barricade anyone who even dares to want to climb over.
Opening up takes an enormous amount of self-awareness, because those who are able to open up are the ones who know themselves the most. Think about it: how can you open up to anyone without knowing what you are truly made up of on the inside? How do you know what your biggest fears are made of, or what your unspoken nightmares are conjured from, or what your biggest failures are, without first understanding and identifying all of these things to begin with?
Opening up is a two-way street, but here’s the double edged truth: you won’t ever be able to foster meaningful relationships without learning how to open up to someone. Opening up allows others to get to know you beyond the surface. It welcomes the ones who matter deep into your life beyond face value to really understand the makeup of the reasons behind your character and an insight into what you’ve been through. Relationships are bred among vulnerability and fostered in a culture of openness – and it all starts with opening up.