What are you looking forward to in the upcoming year?
If you had asked me this question in years past, I could easily rattle off a list of things that I wanted to happen, but had no way of guaranteeing that they could happen. Yet I’ve learned the hard way that depending on circumstances and leaning on this perfect yet uncontrollable vision only leads to disappointment. Instead, I want to focus on what I can control.
And rather than make a long list of cliche New Years Resolutions that I’m more than likely to give up on at one point or another, I’m going to choose one thing to primarily put my emotional time and energy into. In my first entry for December, I declared that 2013 would be the year of freedom, and discussed the particular freedoms that I would like to embrace. But those freedoms can be summed up in one simple sentence: living with authenticity as well as intimacy.
Despite sounding incredibly similar, I’ve come to the conclusion that these two words are not the same thing. While authenticity involves a person’s self-awareness of who they are, it tends to frequently come off as defensive and lacking the will/motivation to improve or become better at something. It’s individualistic and involves only that one person taking responsibility for how they present themselves.
Intimacy is where two or more people genuinely present themselves to one another exactly as they are and make a point to actively connect and relate to each other. It’s raw and without pretense. It takes time and involves an equal amount of sharing and listening; telling the truth and being able to hear it and recognize it. It’s not a state of codependency, but acknowledging the fact that one can’t survive or succeed on their own.
And I say that because there was an insane imbalance of the two in my life this year. I knew who I was and how I felt, but scared stiff of how some of my friends and family would react if I peeled back those layers. I was not only careful about who I talked to, but how I talked to them; I didn’t want to risk being looked down upon for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just oversharing in general.
What my insecurities prevented me from discussing in person, I wrote it on my blog and had other people read it. It may have kept me from enduring rejection (at least verbally) but it left me isolated from those that I desperately wanted to know, and for them to know me.
So if there’s one thing that I really want out of the New Year, it’s to have relationships with very little insecurities or inhibitions. To have that closeness and vulnerability that I once did seven years ago. It’s just too exhausting to try so hard to keep my guard up, as opposed to risking a kind of pain that can eventually be healed.
It won’t, nor is it possible for everyone that I interact with, because sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well. On the other side of it, I can also tell when we don’t have a lot in common and when I’m the one holding back. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve been told that it’s the gift of discernment.
Whether it be feeling confident in our own skin, or being vulnerable with another person, I think it’s something that is hard for everyone in one way or another. It’s hard because we’re given this mixed message that our self-worth should be based on being likable rather than being human. If we don’t meet specific standards, then we’re not good enough.
Although I don’t have an exact blueprint as to how I’m going to work my way out of isolation in terms of certain relationships, a lot of it is a matter of not depending on friends or family to help determine how I see myself. And that no matter what pain I have to go through, I will be OK.
I’ve assumed that the greatest pain is rejection. But it turns out the greatest pain is a life without knowing, and a life without love.