By Heather Macon
A few weekends ago, I enjoyed the beautiful simplicity of having dessert and tea with a friend. The night was beautiful, we were beautiful, and I had an unmeasurable amount of joy guiding me. After many laughs, smiles, and exchanges on what shade of red lip stains we were both wearing, the question came. My heart dropped when she asked, so what’s been going on with you? There can be so much power packed in one statement.
I immediately began to think of something exciting to share, which didn’t reveal any form of disappointment, ungratefulness, or confusion. I also didn’t want to bore her with the long-running to-do list that overstays their welcome in my mind. Within those few seconds, my anxiety heightened, and I felt this heaviness within my chest, ultimately fighting tears that had been buried for quite some time. After a few moments, I relaxed my shoulders and took a few deep breaths. In a split second, my mental destination of fantasy was lost. I replied, I honestly don’t know what’s been going on with me. I didn’t think twice about the statement that came out of my mouth, I didn’t worry about a reaction, but I did, however, answer honestly.
I was honest about leaving a doctoral program this past fall that was no longer serving me. The thought of leaving a functional area within my realm of work was processed out loud. I finally was able to answer truthfully without adding any fluff to my current reality. I’ve invested so much time, labor, voice, and energy into a career that I no longer see for myself long-term. Being on the cusp of thirty, amid a career change and changing my eating habits, has brought imbalance into my life lately. So when I think about my work (that has contributed to burnout) being my daily routine life, how do I truthfully engage with someone about what’s going on with me? Do you know what comes along with that question, for me at least? Embarrassment.
At times, it is a feeling indescribable. This feeling wrapped in what I should express aloud or what I should keep with myself. The pages in my journals serve as a deep, profound ear, the vulnerability flows, and I can express myself with words. I re-read my deep reflections, and I praise myself for choosing me. So if you were to ask me to open up, I have a journal for that.
Through therapy, time, and learning experiences, I have grown into vulnerability with those who choose to see me without judgment. When I decide to speak confidently and frame my conversation with statements and not questions, I’m putting someone on notice; this is what is going on with me, this is the decision I chose to make, and I am okay with that. With balanced interaction and updates shared between us two, there was a feeling of connectedness that allowed my words to flow freely. The engagement was present in multiple forms that allowed room for flaw, acceptance, and transparency.
I’ve had to affirm that it is okay to change my mind, it is okay for me to be tired, and it is indeed okay for me to say, I honestly don’t know. Sometimes, we can spend so much energy and focus on creating walls, facades, and outward appearances for protection. I am transitioning out of this phase where I expect others to be okay with my decisions. When I firmly tell myself, Heather, it is okay to change your mind, I mean it. For so long, I lived in this uncomfortable space of fear, fear of release, and fear of being vulnerable with anyone who didn’t feel safe. By the end of the night, I felt a sense of peace.
I found peace in being honest. There was truth in my ability to not second guess myself. My voice didn’t tremble as I authentically shared where my energy has been. I focused on being in the moment, and my focus wasn’t highlighted as something to someone. Primarily, that evening, I spoke from a place of vulnerability and honesty. As I am working diligently toward enjoying more moments where I am present, engaging in any current activity or conversation, I allow myself to connect authentically.
While discernment is still necessary, I am learning to be true to myself and allowing my introspections to be valuable along my journey. I realize how much more peace and space arise within vulnerability.
Heather Macon is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Heather is a creative who enjoys art in all forms. You can follow her on Twitter @HJanaii.