When I was young, I was painfully, painfully shy. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me today, but there was a time in my life I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to people I liked. I always worried about being weird…being rejected…not being liked. It went on this way for many years and eventually evolved into one big pity party. I used to think how unfair it was that others could make friends so easily, that they could talk to others without a care in the world. That being vulnerable didn’t send them running in 5 different directions.
I got depressed. Not severely, not clinically, but it all combined to lead me down a path of depression and I didn’t even realize it. FASTEST WAY TO DEPRESSION? Wallow in self pity. One day, when I was about 13, I started crying and I could.not.stop. I’m fairly certain I cried for most of the day and my mom couldn’t console me. When my dad got home from work, she sent him into my room to talk to me and I was still crying. He asked me why I’d been crying all day and I answered honestly, “I don’t know!”
My father is one of the wisest men I know and though I don’t remember exactly what he said to me that night, I do remember he told me a few things. #1. He told me my hormones were changing and that might make me cry for no reason at all. Since he has a wife and 4 other daughters, I guess he probably knows a little something about that. 🙂 #2. He explained what emotions are and although I don’t remember anything else he said about emotions, I wish I did because I’m sure it was the start of my self-reflection. #3. He told me that throughout my life I would face fears, pains and emotions that at times would seem insurmountable and overwhelming and that the only person who could truly help me overcome them and use them for my good was my God and Savior. That I only had to rely on them for my happiness.
Well, you can probably guess, but I cried through the whole beautiful chat and I cried even harder when he hugged me, told me he loved me and I continued crying until my weary self fell asleep. I’m not sure the exact succession of events in the days that followed, but I do remember that’s when my life changed.
When my dad tells the story, he ends it with, “she painted her room yellow and she’s been happy ever since!” Yes, I did in fact paint my room yellow but there were a lot of changes happening inside of me that were the true cause of happiness and more importantly, these internal changes are the things that maintain my happiness. First of all, I did some heavy duty self-reflecting and decided that probably everyone (or close to it), at some level, has fears of being vulnerable, of rejection, of being weird. I decided that a lot of people had a hard time talk to new people and making friends and that just maybe those I had been envious of for making it seem so easy had indeed worked at their ability to make new friends.
I made a commitment to myself that rather than focusing on me and my fears about socializing, I was going to make it easier for others to socialize. I would initiate conversations, I would be genuinely interested in their lives, their beliefs, hopes and dreams. I would be vulnerable first so they would have an easier time opening up and letting me in. I would be the kind of friend I wanted.
At the same time, I was also focusing on my relationship with my Savior. With the help of my father and a teacher at school, I learned about how much my Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother and Jesus Christ love me. I learned and learned and I believed they loved me that much, but it wasn’t until a few years later that I actually EXPERIENCED it as they set me free from a struggle I’d been fighting. This overwhelming love poured over me and I came to learn that my Savior has already fought my fights and He has won. He won the battle with all my insecurities, he conquered my fears and restored my life. I learned that He and my Heavenly Parents are my source of confidence and everlasting happiness and I realized that if I knew they loved me and were pleased with the human I was then what did it matter what others may or may not think of me. My confidence does not rest on humans. It rests on those glorious beings.
With this lesson learned and the determination to make life easier for others, the next 7 years of my life were the happiest I could have ever imagined. I met the most amazing people who changed my life and are still my best friends to this day. Because I was willing to open up, they got to know the real me and they love me unconditionally. Flaws and all.
When I was 17, I fell in love. Maybe it was teenage love, but it was love nonetheless, and it was painful. So painful. I left my everything out there and was rejected. For many years I kept trying to make it work when it just wasn’t meant to be and with every road block, I let it push me back into my fears and insecurities of socializing but now with the added stress of getting my heart broken again. I didn’t revert to never opening my mouth, but I found excuses to not socialize with people. I found it exhausting to open up and let others in. I didn’t want to lay myself out there again just to feel more pain.
A month ago, someone asked me for help with a problem they were facing and I was able to tell them this story. My story. It reminded me how enjoyable life is when I am real. When I accept the good with the bad, the pain with the love. It is really true that there must be opposition in all things. At least for me anyway. Without one, I rarely feel the other. Telling my story reminded me that I am not this person I’ve been living as. I am love, I am happy, I am genuine and I love getting to know new people. If that means I fall in love with someone else who wasn’t meant for me, then let the pain come! Because in the end, the love is completely worth anything that comes with it.
After my discussion with this person, I immediately hung “Get Over Yourself!” on my wall. I hung it there to remind me to get out of my own way. To get over my fears and to make life easier for others. To love and be loved. To feel all the feels this world has to offer me!
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.