Opening up can be frightening.
The fear of being judged, of being misunderstood, of being understood but discounted.
Pour out your insides for what, just to become someone else’s small talk?
I echo this sentiment.
I’d rather think myself to death than share my feelings.
And it’s addictive, this habit of internalising heavy things and trying to figure them out alone.
But heavy things make for heavy hearts.
The burdens pile up, slowly suffocating the life out of us.
We’re often flattened by the loads we don’t share, not the ones people place on us.
It’s a dire picture, isn’t it?
So what’s the way out?
How does one muster vulnerability in the face of an uncertain reception in a world that’s notoriously cold?
There’s something basic that I’m trying to do more deliberately:
Let me explain.
It’s logical to assume that for every worry I have, someone else has a worry of their own.
So I make room for them to share their worry. Not because I can necessarily make it go away, but because being heard should be a basic human right.
When we’re heard, we feel seen. And when we’re seen, maybe, just maybe, we don’t feel so alone.
So I listen like my life depends on it.
When all the sharing is done, I go with my gut and offer whatever comfort I can.
It could be a prayer, a hug, validation or just presence – sometimes, being there is enough.
When that listening-comforting process is over, I feel like I’ve earned the right to share my own worry.
Now, because it can be too much at once, it’s unlikely that I’d immediately pour out my heart to the person who just bared their soul to me.
Instead, I remind myself to remain willing to share with the next person who seems open to listening.
As you may have gathered, there’s some hopefulness and trusting involved.
We hope to find someone who would listen without prescribing, judging or trying to play the saviour.
We trust that the stories we share privately won’t become a WhatsApp broadcast, fuel for a Clubhouse debate or viral tweet material.
I suppose love isn’t love without hope and trust, and life without love can be dreadful.
So we trade worries to love people and ourselves.
You see, sharing isn’t just caring then, it’s an act of self-love.