Anyone who knows me can, without a second thought, call me the talker of the group. There's something about being around a group of people that exhilarates me and gets my blood flowing. To a lot of my friends, that makes absolutely no sense, but to me, I don't know any other way of living. That being said, it leads to a life that is hectic and chaotic, and a lot of times jam-packed.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking. How could I love being an extrovert so much, yet feel as if I'm hiding behind it? Well, if I'm quite honest, what I'm hiding isn't my personality — it's my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I spend so much of my time around other people, yet all too often I find myself hiding my fears behind a well-placed dad joke or a story that captivates all of those around me.
I don't know why I feel I need to do this, save face so to speak. The people I'm conversing with on a daily basis confide in me and love and care for me, so why can't I find it within me to let them in the same way? Maybe it has to do with my deep-rooted insecurities and not wanting anyone to truly see how much I'm hurting. Or maybe it is that I find myself putting others above myself and my problems become irrelevant in comparison. Either way, I'm hiding all of my stress and issues behind a wall of loud laughter and friendly smiles.
I think there's a part of me that assumes that because my weekly calendar is typically packed full of meals with friends, meetings, and all of the other stereotypical collegiate activities. I'm supposed to have it all figured out, or at least appear to. The irony in that, though, is that I spend a significant portion of my time surrounded by a community that realizes and accepts that I am far from having it all together, yet I still refuse to open up to them about it. Don't get me wrong, I will every now and again lean on some of my friends and give them a glimpse into the chaos that is my inner emotions, but it is a very rare occasion that I full on the breakdown and let all of my issues out to anyone.
It's as if the emotional, vulnerable side of me is an introvert and sits silently on the sidelines while my more extroverted outer exterior takes the lead in day to day conversations.
There are sometimes when being the girl hiding behind her extroversion is exhausting. Not because I don't love and thrive off of the conversations I'm having with the others, but because all too often I shove my problems to the side, bottling them up while I try to take on everyone else's problems as well. Everyone has an emotional baggage capacity, and my inability to confide in people leads this capacity to already be stretched thin.
All that being said, if this summer taught me one thing it's that I can't continue being this girl. I can't continue behind being the resident extrovert that cares more for others than themselves and refuses let others care for them the same way. That doesn't mean I will stop caring for people, that's so far from the solution. If anything, I should care for people better because I've learned that caring for others means that you also have to let others care for you. That means opening up to those that are close to me and letting them in on the burdens that are weighing down on me.
I'm learning that vulnerability isn't a weakness. If anything, it's one of our greatest strengths. When we are able to step out from hiding behind this outward persona we put on for others, hoping that they won't see the cracks, deeper friendships are forged through bearing each other's burdens and loving each other in spite of them.
So to whoever is reading this, step out from behind the shield that you put on for those around you and let your vulnerability become one of your greatest strengths. Let's learn how to embark on this crazy adventure called life together and remember that no matter how alone we feel in our worries and problems there is always someone out there who is going to be there for us. Let's start confiding in each other and bearing each other's burdens. Let's learn to love each other well. Let's be vulnerable with each other!