Therapy

7:30am. I’ve been laying in bed for 20 mins, though not actually awake enough to get out of bed. I rarely wake up before my alarm, so I try to pinpoint where this restlessness is coming from – its not Christmas morning, nor do I have a big interview or a flight to catch – whats the deal?

Thats right – I’m starting therapy today. True to form, I’ve been repressing my underlying worry about the whole thing and its now coming to the surface in the form of poor sleep quality. I can acknowledge that my repressing of various emotions is one reason why I’m going to therapy on the first place. I’d argue that my level self-awareness is quite high, but self-awareness means nothing if you don’t use it as a catalyst for change. I make myself a hot cup of lemon water and sit out on my deck, enjoying this moment of solitude before heading out.

8:15am. Listening to Optimal Living Daily while waiting for the J. I’ve replaced music with podcasts for my daily commute, as I’ve read that you should incorporate positive, informative material in your morning routine to set the tone for your day. Admittedly, I’m only half-listening as I’m still a bit on edge about my appointment – there is something beautiful but equally terrifying about confiding in a stranger, disclosing the deepest parts of your fears, wants, and desires.

To be fair, I’ve done this before: I was 22, cursed with a proclivity for model fuckboys and stuck in a toxic work environment (surprise: they were linked!) At the only went for three sessions, but in that time I had multiple breakthroughs which facilitated my growth into the person I am now, and I’ve always been open to the idea of going back when the time came. At 26, my problems are different, but the sentiment remains the same: I need an objective person to talk to about my life, as it stands, and how to work through whatever is holding me back.

For all my trying to hold it together at all times, I can recognize that whatever I am doing right now – from meditation, to yoga, to affirmations – is just not enough to manage my insecurities about my career. Work – huge part of who I am – is very much a work in progress, and its all-consuming. Unfortunately since age 16 I’ve been possessed with an insatiable desire to succeed in entertainment and media, wherein people are  notoriously overworked, underpaid, under valued. After four and a half years and several great opportunities, I haven’t quite found my place, which leads me to wonder will I ever fit it in anywhere? Should I be worried? Am I living in a fantasy world in search of the perfect job? Does that exist? Should I go work at a fucking bank? Is my therapist going to think I’m ridiculous? These are the things I wonder as I walk into her office.

To be clear, I count my blessings daily: I have a job, a salary, and a roof over my head. I have a full life outside of work, a family, good health, and a wealth terribly cliched first world problems. These pure luxuries, for which I am grateful, cannot stop this innate feeling that I am floating through life, happy enough but barely scratching the surface of what I am capable of, wasting my tremendous privilege. No amount of “you’re doing amazing sweetie” from my ever-adoring mom, motivational memes, or words of affection from my boyfriend will help.

So, therapy it is.

 

WTF

Dear Universe,

WTF is going on?

I like to think that I give pretty good advice – I derive pleasure from listening to people’s problems and offering my take on things, providing a (typically) unbiased perspective and hopefully offering comfort or serving as a catalyst for some type of resolution. As I see it, all of my friends are incredibly powerful beings deserving of unlimited love, sex, money, success, happiness and fulfillment. The advice I give, sometimes harsh and always honest, supports that theory.

The same things I champion in others – vulnerability, fearlessness, strength, tenacity – have recently been completely lost when it comes time to apply said advice to my own life when I need it most. Despite being surrounded by love and an especially strong support system, I feel this incessant need to do everything on my own – to always be strong, strategically work through my problems, shove any negative feelings to the back of my mind, and actively refrain from burdening those around me with my own needs. I want to be the best that I can be in every role I inhabit, from daughter and friend, to girlfriend or employee. It is important for me to be there for others, but when it comes time to call on support I am suddenly paralyzed, terrified of becoming a “nag” or the “needy girl.” Why the hell is it suddenly so difficult to be there for myself, to be so easily giving but simultaneously unable to receive?

At this moment, my life is somewhat in flux across the board: I am having a minor, unexpected and unwelcome quarter-life crisis as I try to navigate the best next steps for my career, wondering if there is ever a time to choose profit over passion (I shouldn’t have to choose…I want both!) I am dealing with an ailing family member, which will imminently bring a devastating loss in the near future. While uncertainty can undoubtedly be exciting I know I will inevitably persevere, I am admittedly overwhelmed and in need of someone to lean on – to remind me that is okay to not be okay, to feel, to cry, to be girly and imperfect before refocusing and moving forward.

In addition to everything going on, I am falling for someone. Wasn’t necessarily planning to, but as well all know, life rarely (if ever) goes as planned. But that is a topic for another day.

On Vulnerability

I have been thinking of vulnerability a lot of as of late. It seems simple: accept and love yourself unapologetically, and be open to all of life’s experiences, both positive and negative, without fear. In practice? An entirely different story. You mean to tell me that I’m supposed to expose myself for who I really am all of the time and allow people to possibly reject, hurt, and disappoint me? Pass.

In a world where both men and women are expected to be unwavering in their strength, it is no wonder that people have a an extremely difficult time being vulnerable. The word itself is typically associated with weakness, fear, and shame: qualities that young boys are raised to avoid like the plague and girls come to associate with “neediness” as they grow older. Vulnerability can be a liability, so instead of opening up we do the opposite – shut down and shut the world out claiming that we do not need anyone.

Act big and bad all you want but let’s face it: we want to be loved, wanted, desired, successful in our own right and genuinely happy. How can you attain all of those things by fronting and putting up defenses? I am not saying you should allow people to walk all over you, because vulnerability is not about being weak or being someone’s doormat. Nor am I saying that when you first meet someone you should go “Hi, I’m _____, and these are my fears/hopes/dreams”. But, sooner rather than later, you have to be willing to let your guard down and be real in order for relationships to move forward. In friendships and love, vulnerability is essential for to establish real connections as it requires both parties to be genuine, trusting, and honest. Without that what do you have? Let me answer that: not shit.

So, I need you to forget everything you know about being vulnerable and replace it with the following:

Vulnerability takes courage. It takes a brave soul to be completely honest and open with all of you, from your strengths and victories to your weaknesses and shortcomings. It takes courage to show your true self, flaws and all, to others. In doing so you are opening up to potential pain, but also to happiness and freedom that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

There is strength in vulnerability. Being extremely open and self-aware is powerful. Having a firm grasp on your likes, preferences, fears, needs, goals and being able to express them is a sign of strength and security with yourself as you are. You are secure, know your boundaries and can stand your ground. Yes, you are open but that does not mean you will allow people to take advantage or manipulate. It also implies that even though you love yourself, you’re still striving to improve.

Being vulnerable is cool. Everyone is always stuck on trying to be “cool” and hiding their flaws or insecurities out of fear of being judged as this or that. You are not like anybody else, and why would you want to be? Try being yourself (the real you that you are with your family and friends) and see what happens. It may be a cliche but it needs to be said because people are still out here fronting for some reason. I am a nerdy, outspoken goofball with a weird laugh and a big head and I am not sorry about it. This is my truth and I have accepted this. Accept yours.

Vulnerability is extremely sexy.  I think someone who is able to be entirely transparent, aware and accepting of themselves is one of the most attractive qualities a person can possess. It is a bold move to share the good and bad parts of yourself and to trust someone not to shit all over you. Someone who exudes confidence and security in who they are and what they feel without apologizing for it is hot. It turns 6’s into 10’s everyday.

It takes a lot to consciously strive to be vulnerable and it is something I struggle with daily. We have all had an experience or two that make us hesitate to trust out of fear of being hurt and cause us to hide ourselves away. Being vulnerable will not shield you from disappointment in life, but it is more about accepting the hurt and not letting it control or limit you. Yes, being vulnerable has led me to experience deep pain, its also allowed me to feel the most joy I have ever felt. Without the lows how the hell could we ever learn to appreciate the highs?