Looking back over my journey, there was one big decision that ultimately changed everything. That was the decision to embrace vulnerability. Honesty. Authenticity.
For many years, I hid who I was. I felt depressed and hid myself to the world because I thought my pain made me flawed, when in fact it only made me human. But the clincher was that the more I hid from the world, the more I pigeonholed myself into someone I wasn’t meant to be.
To unleash your true self, you must express yourself, not repress yourself.
All this fear and self-repression left me with little clue who I was or what I wanted. It left me chasing after people who had no interest in being in my life. And honestly, I had little interest in being in theirs. I was just so lost that I was looking for any place to fit in.
The rejection hurt, but I always comforted myself by saying, oh well, they don’t even know me. How could they? I didn’t show my true self to anyone! I felt a negative cloud of dark energy around me all the time and hated myself for it.
Ultimately, not fitting in anywhere was a blessing because it forced me to never stop searching.
If you don’t have a place where you feel like you belong. It’s okay. Connect to the home in your heart.
How it all changed
A year-and-a-half ago, I reached a breaking point and decided to embark on 40 days of yoga and healing. I also committed to posting daily on Instagram. This was an important first step for embracing vulnerability because I had always wanted to write personal stories, but feared putting my true self into the world because I felt damaged.
Tip No. 1: Post anonymously
When I first started sharing online, my Instagram name was @alohafriday, and it felt comfortable because nobody knew who I was.
Even though I feared rejection, I knew deep down that I wasn’t alone in my feelings, and even though I still wore a mask and wasn’t super vulnerable at first, I released my true self in small increments. And people were really supportive! The yoga community on Instagram is amazing and other people’s support gave me the strength to continue sharing.
Tip No. 2: Post regularly
When you commit to posting regularly, it forces you to find something to say. Starting a new habit is the hardest, and if you commit to sharing your authentic truth online as a spiritual practice, you must fit it in every day, or however many times each week you promise yourself you’ll do it.
For life changes to be truly transformative, discipline and consistency is key! With posting, it ensures you face your fears and work through all the stuff that comes up as you stay on the path of vulnerability. That said, if you fall off the wagon, don’t worry about it. Just begin again.
Tip No. 3: Keep some discretion
It’s a balance posting online. When testing the waters, you don’t want to post intimate details or super specific things. Start out slow, see the response, and then post some more. Once you get a little wind in your sails, you won’t care what other people think, but nurture your journey and find the amount of vulnerability that’s right for you.
Why put yourself through this?
The act of putting myself out into the world and connecting with others who felt the same way was the most healing thing I’ve ever done. All my life, psychiatrist after psychiatrist told me I was crazy and tried to prescribe me pills. I felt so detached from others.
Could I have just embraced more vulnerability in day-to-day life? Sure, but for me, writing is part of who I am, and I think for many introverts, sharing online is a gateway to sharing more in real life. Today, I am vulnerable and authentic in person, but sharing my journey online helped me do that.
Sharing my journey was a critical step in uprooting a feeling of separateness. Think about it: why are we so afraid to put ourselves out there? Because we’re afraid we’re weird. When we put ourselves out there and see that others experience the same things, that means we’re not weird! It’s so freeing.
Discovering that I’m not flawed has unleashed my individuality. I don’t care so much what other people think of me anymore because sharing my journey has helped me squash that deep-rooted feeling of shame so many of us have lurking in our hearts. Knowing that I’ve helped other people through sharing my journey is priceless.
My vulnerability and authenticity has become an act of service. I’m a spiritual teacher and see other teachers all perfect all the time and sometimes wonder if I should cultivate an image, too.
But then I dig a little deeper and realize that nobody has it all figured out, and anybody putting that image up is just putting up an image. I can’t do that. I’ve always been candid to a fault. Anyway, my work centers around the power of emotion to heal and connect us to our authentic selves, and so embarrassing myself daily is part of my job. Just kidding.
If I show you my peaceful days and then show you my hard days, maybe you’ll believe that peace is much closer than you believe. Maybe you’ll stop fighting yourself and just love yourself no matter what, no matter how you feel.
For me, this is personal. My sister killed herself in 1997, a week before her 22nd birthday. If I can make one person feel less alone, then I’ve done my part. I’ll look like a fool. I don’t care. Nobody should feel alone, unworthy or scared to reach out because they’re sad.
And you know what would help make all the world feel less alone and sad, even if they don’t share? If you do.
How much do you share online? Share your thoughts in the comments below!