As a person, I crave connection. Some people thrive on the surface level “How are you?”s of life, and even if they ask the question, rarely listen for the response. I am not that girl. I see hundreds of people a day, and I ask each one how they are- and listen for their response. The ones who say “Not too bad” are often surprised by my follow up of “Does that mean not too good either?” Sometimes I get a genuine answer.
I want my interactions to be meaningful, even if they aren’t deep. Give me a song recommendation; tell me why you chose it. Tell me about your weekend and I’ll likely probe deeper. Tell me about something you have coming up, I’ll remember and ask about it when next we speak. I’m not perfect at this by any means, but it is something I’m intentional about and I try my best to be present and pay attention. These are, what I would call, easy conversations.
There are some conversations that are more challenging. It has long been touted that the three hardest things to say are: “I’m sorry”, “I love you” and “Please help me”. While I agree that there is some merit to those being hard phrases to utter, some of my best opportunities for growth have come from them. I know I’m fallible and I make mistakes, and owning them with an apology and corrected behavior is growth. Life has taught me to say I love you and often, because you never know when you might not get the chance to say it again. Please help me is the one I struggle with the most, though I have improved in leaps and bounds from a few years ago.
What I find the most challenging at times is speaking my truth. I’ve heard it called bold honesty before, and others have called it taking a stand. Sometimes you have to tell someone you love that they hurt you. Sometimes actions affect you and you need to share that, lest the person be unaware. Sometimes that’s stating your needs, fully knowing that the person you’re speaking with may or may not be able to meet them- but giving them the opportunity. Sometimes it’s telling someone you miss them, when you’re not sure that you should. Sometimes it’s telling a friend or loved one, I see you going down this path and it worries me because I love you. Sometimes it’s sharing an experience and learning that even those with you during that time, were unaware of how it impacted you.
The crux to all of the conversations above is vulnerability. It’s opening up. It’s trusting the person you’re talking with not to hurt you unnecessarily, and trusting yourself to handle the fallout regardless of how it shakes out. It’s sharing from the heart. Many moons ago, one of my favorite teachers told me “If it’s real and from the heart, you can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.” That is a statement that has played in my head over and over again as I’ve geared up to have many conversations.
Vulnerability forges deeper connections and safe spaces. As I step forth today, my desire is to speak from my heart, own my truth and foster greater connection.