I more than most have been guilty of always presenting an ‘I’ve got it all together’ front. The “I’m perfectly in control, have my finger on every pulse I need to, and I juggle multiple things effortlessly” kind of thing. It was a persona not brought about by an ego which said I needed to be better than anyone else. Far from it. It was a front to avoid facing up to and talking about how unhappy I felt I was at times, and never more so than when I left my 18 year marriage. Yet my separation and subsequent divorce made my unhappiness public and for the first time ever I found myself talking openly about how unhappy I’d been, to the surprise of even my closest friends who really hadn’t a clue.
Looking back on it now nearly four years later I can see what a massive disservice I’d done myself. I’d missed out on support which would have been there in a heartbeat had I only been brave enough to be open, honest, and totally ‘me’. Yes it takes bravery to be open and vulnerable, to say out loud to people who you trust and who love you unconditionally that you need help. Yet we play those faulty tapes over and over again telling ourselves we’ve failed in some way because we feel unhappy, overwhelmed, emotion, …. the list goes on. Whilst there are some people out there who we cannot trust with our vulnerability, because they will judge. Those closest to us, the ones who have our backs, our tribe, are our 3am friends. Those that we’d call with any problem, at any hour, and they would be there in a heartbeat.
So as we come to the end of one decade and look forward to the next I reflect back on what I’ve learnt these past 10 years, how far I’ve come, and what I want to do next, both personally and professionally. I feel more me than I have ever done and I like her. She’s kind, loyal, generous, and funny. I’m still working on my tendency to get my boxing gloves out to fight single-handedly, and instead learning it’s sometimes better to have a team of supporters behind you as you enter the boxing ring. I know how important a community has been to my own growth. Communities of like-minded people with a shared common goal tend to foster vulnerability, which helps you grow in ways you could never imagine were possible.
So to all of you feeling a little lost, unfulfilled, or just not quite yourself, I’d offer the following simple advice; find your community, your tribe, your 3am friends, and dare to be vulnerable. Open up to your true self, believe you are enough, and have faith. Being open shows your strength. Understand the journey, your journey, is going to be very different from someone else’s and that’s OK. Strength comes from learning from the experiences of others in your tribe, celebrating their wins and carrying them when they feel unable to go on. Together as a community we all grow stronger.
So my word for the next decade is Community. It’s only through Community that we connect and grow. xx