Hey look, yet another post about vulnerability

I spent some time yesterday evening reflecting on early writing projects of mine, namely those which ended up published somewhere or another. I’d saved some of them but deleted most, overcome by the shame and anxiety of my vulnerability. It often takes me years before I can bring myself to face my writing. I have not reread most of the posts here since I published them.
I began blogging ten or so years ago, spilling words onto pages rather than learning to confide in my loved ones. My fifteen-year-old self would probably be disappointed to know that it is not a skill I have yet mastered, though I would adamantly inform her that I am, in fact, far better at it than she was.
Imaginary arguments with my teenage self aside, there has been a common theme throughout the years of my writings: I’ve written about the hurt that I have experienced. I wrote about being lonely despite having friends, about feeling separate and isolated because I was too scared to reach out. I wrote about knowing people deeply who didn’t know me at all, about the imbalances in my relationships with people around me that were never addressed, about my confusion regarding whether I was the only one who could see it. I wrote about how I wanted to be known, to be seen, to be understood, to be cared about, but I also wrote about the hesitancy and anxiety that kept me withdrawn enough to ensure I never felt any of those things.
I consider myself to be an excessively introspective person. I went into psychology to figure myself out, because even as a young teenager, I recognized my unhealthy patterns, the ways in which I was used, and how much my sense of self-worth was dependent on other people. I can write about it with more depth and comprehension now, but it is remarkable to see the same fears expressed when I was fifteen as I am still working through as recently as this morning.
I cannot adequately convey to you the number of times I have faced a blank document over the last month and waited for the words—any words—to appear. I write when I feel strongly, and I certainly have felt so recently, but I write nothing but journal entries which, even though I am the only one who reads them, still dance around the specifics.
I suspect that the reason why I’ve felt so incapable of writing anything here is because of how much my reasons for writing have changed. Before, I was a girl trying to figure out her place in a world that so often felt uncaring and dark. The loneliness bleeding through the words I read yesterday is a testament to just how thoroughly I had isolated myself in an attempt to retain some vestige of safety. I hurt for that girl who shoved away well meaning attempts at reaching out, who fought for distance more than she fought for closeness, who perpetually felt as though she was standing on the outside of a firelit window overlooking the love and laughter which she craved.
I was not unique, though. I was no different than a multitude of others who felt just as lost as I did, and I knew that. So, I wrote. I wrote for the public to see, maybe even for some of you still reading my words today. I wrote because I knew how it felt to read the words of others, and I wanted to share with the world that feeling of recognition. I wrote because I wanted even just one person to feel seen. I wrote because I believe that words reach people, and even if I still struggle to extraordinary extents to use them when they matter the most, I still love them.
Every part of that still holds true, but my world has narrowed. I have successfully centered my focus onto what truly matters to me rather than trying and failing to carry a universe in my own hands. I am not the girl figuring out her place in the world; I am the girl trying to figure out her place among those around her. While comforting at times, for I have found levels of security and safety which I’ve never before experienced, it also grants me ample time and opportunity to face myself.
Introspection has offered me the chance to learn about who I am, but circumstance and growth has forced me into the position of having to adapt rather than hide.
It’s another experience which I know is far from unique; we each walk our own paths of self-discovery. But even if the experience isn’t singular, the process feels like it is.
If there’s one thing I know about myself and of which anyone who reads my writing is aware, it is that vulnerability for the sake of vulnerability is pretty close to being one of the things I fear and want the most. I have shared a great deal of vulnerability in these posts over the years, which has perplexed me given my propensity to avoid it on an individual level. I explained it away with the excuse that I was writing to a reasonably anonymous audience, even as I shared it (albeit with discomfort) with my friends.
I realize now that the reason has more to do with the knowledge that my experiences were not solely my own. If I could write something relatable, then my vulnerability wouldn’t be as uncomfortable. If someone could take something away from it, then I had a purpose. If someone felt like they were seen or heard or understood, then hoping that my words would be read did not feel selfish.
With a more specific and perhaps less consistently relatable journey before me, my writing no longer feels safe to share, for it no longer feels like I am giving something to the reader. It feels as though I am taking something from you. It feels like I want to be heard more than I want to help someone else feel that way. It feels like I am asking to be seen instead of scattering pieces of myself into my attempt to help someone else feel like they have been recognized. In short, it feels selfish and wrong. To have the audacity to think myself worthy of someone taking enough time and attention to read something that I’ve written without an external purpose feels foreign and intensely uncomfortable.
So, I instead journal. I’ve written twenty thousand words or more over the last few weeks, but even there I fight the shame of my vulnerability. I fight the anxiety which chokes me as I contemplate writing for even myself. I fight it because, no different from the scared, lonely, hurting child I once was, I know there is something different, something better, something hopeful beyond the distances I have been too afraid to cross.
Maybe there is something relevant here to others. It is irrational to assume otherwise; I know I am not special. I am sitting with the discomfort, though, of having written it without the specific intention of ensuring relatability. I am sitting with the near overwhelming anxiety of considering sharing it. I almost want to laugh at the absurdity, because I know what I would be saying to someone else in my position in this moment.
It is a strange thing to have craved significance for so long and, upon finding it to some degree, to then feel so very undeserving of it. It is a strange thing to have found more consistent happiness than I’ve ever had, even as I feel as though I’m constantly battling the pervasive fear of not being enough, of being too much, of simply being. There is no growth without discomfort, though, so I will keep trying to make myself face it.
As always and perhaps more than ever in this instance, thank you for reading. 💙

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