Lately I’ve been ruminating on kindness, trust, and vulnerability. Becoming a PuBLiC FiGuRe a few years ago was super fun, but opening myself up to the masses definitely affected my ability to trust not only others, but myself (I think I just quoted Kelly Clarkson). I write for an audience, a large(ish) audience, and I second guess everything I say. I determined it best to be the most hair tossing, wide eyed, fashionable version of myself online and gather a group of close friends to trust with the disastrous part of me – the part that cries, lies, gossips, tells secrets, betrays confidences, drinks too much, denies personal responsibility and accountability, delights in the misfortune of others. The deepest part of me, the part that’s the biggest mess and the most raw, I revealed only to maybe 2 people and my cat.
When you trust people though, you don’t just trust them with the parts of you that are easily forgiven for being human, you trust them with the ugly parts of you, and you trust them to love you still. When you reveal your ugly though, you also reveal the pain behind the ugly – the reasons why you’re ugly, and those reasons are always painful, heartbreaking, sad, misfortunate reasons. When you trust someone and they choose to betray the trust or or judge the confidence, it hurts because your heart isn’t feeling their rejection based on your activities, it’s feeling their rejection based on your fucked up, broken past – the abuse-driven or mental or emotional or heretical reasons for doing the terrible things you do. The pain when someone you love chooses to not love you back because of your actions is excruciating compared to the frustration when someone on the internet judges you for the way you look or your taste in celebrities. Why, then, have I chosen to keep the ugly parts of me from the masses and trust my heart with people who actually have more power to hurt or frighten me? Why am I not locked inside myself, where it’s safe?
Because I believe in the kindness of others. Because I believe in my kindness. Because if I didn’t trust other people crippling loneliness would overwhelm me. Because I want people to trust me. Because you disappoint people and people disappoint you, it happens. Because it feels good to apologize. Because forgiveness and acceptance is a gift. But what do I have to lose from being myself with everyone when being vulnerable means allowing yourself to be hurt? You give others the power to hurt you, yes, but then you remember that it’s up to you to deal with your own reactions. No one has power over your ability to express kindness, empathy, gratitude, and forgiveness.
My therapist told me a few weeks ago when I was fretting about what someone might think of me to “Just be Bo.” She said, “People are going to see you however they choose, but wouldn’t it be great if who they see is you. Just be Bo. Just be you.”
So here I am. I am all the things I present to the internet: funny, clever, fashionable, pretty, body positive, cat obsessed, but I am also a disaster. I have said and done terrible things about and to myself and people I love and people I don’t even know because I was envious, or hurt, or unable to actually face my demons, so instead I buried myself in vicious gossip, dangerous behaviour, and unproductive activities. Making that realization frees me though – it gives me accountability and the ability to no longer indulge in that behaviour, not because I don’t want people to dislike me, but because I want to stop disliking myself. I want to accept the best and worst of me and accept the best and worst of those I love, but stop giving myself permission to misbehave because I’m sad, or hurt, or angry. That is not an excuse. There is never a reason to be unkind, especially to people you love, ESPECIALLY to yourself.
The worst thing I’ve done though, is attempted to shape myself into someone that will please everyone or kept parts of myself hidden because I was afraid to be judged or shamed. Every mistake I’ve made can be traced back to my desperate need for people to like me and not judge me harshly. People are going to judge me though. Not everyone is going to like me. May as well be myself. I can’t be bitter and frightened any more. I can’t. I won’t. I’m going to be kind. I’m going to be generous. I’m going to be accepting. I’m going to be grateful. I’m going to be Bo.