Healing Entails Sharing Your Story And Being Who Your Younger Self Needed

Healing Entails Sharing Your Story And Being Who Your Younger Self Needed

Sharing our story can help heal ourselves and others through connection and empowerment.
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Recently, I’ve found myself wondering a lot why I share so much. I talk about deep personal problems to people I’m close to just as much as people I hardly know. I don’t fully regret doing it, and I know I have reasons why, but sometimes, I feel uncomfortable afterward. Part of me does regret it, I guess.

In her book “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown writes about how oversharing can sometimes be problematic or arise from issues that can be fixed in better ways. It can be part of a "vulnerability armory" in which we try to protect ourselves from vulnerability. An example I identify with is floodlighting, which can look like using vulnerability to test others, to fast-forward a relationship, or to try to discharge comfort. It’s a way to fight vulnerability by becoming overly vulnerable.

However, I don’t think I’m totally in the wrong here. Sharing my story is one way in which I became the person my younger self-needed.

Let’s rewind a little bit.

Younger Ashley quoted Spongebob often, even during fourth grade Sunday School. She played with bathtub crayons and washable markers for hours. She wore Justice t-shirts and went to dance classes.

Younger-But-Older Ashley hung out with friends a lot and participated in her school’s hype student section during football games. She did service work and peer mentorship and was involved with her youth group. She took a lot of baths still, just without the crayons and markers (most times).

So yes, I seemed pretty “normal” and successful on the outside -- and that’s not completely wrong -- however, I dealt with mental health issues and various problematic experiences and people. I was privileged in many ways but faced my own share of struggles as well.

Having been in college for two years now, I’ve learned a lot about my younger self and why I am the way I am now, for better and for worse. I’ve learned how I function, how my brain sees things, and what I need from others and from myself. It’s a lot of insight, but also a lot of work. Add in new problems that arose in college, and well, you could say I’m never bored.

I won’t overshare my personal story right now, because that's not necessarily the point. Through my journey, I've learned some of the main things I need are validation and empathy. I need to feel comfortable in having and sharing emotions. I need to be heard and understood. I need to feel like I’m turning my struggles into other people’s successes. I need to feel like I have control and worth.

So, I talk a lot. I share my story. I yearn for close relationships and connections that will erase my shame through vulnerability. I share my story with people whom I hope will feel less alone because I know what they’re going through in my own way. I go to therapy and work hard and validate myself when others don’t know how to do so. I fight for my needs and mental health and boundaries. I listen to what my current self needs.

While writing a sermon for College Student Sunday in which I shared a personal trauma, God reminded me of Genesis 50:20. Two important variations of the verse exist; the first one says “Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.” The second says “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Through these verses, I am reminded that we are really all one big family, one big group of people trying to navigate life together, doing the best we can for ourselves and each other. I’m reminded of how much I value advocacy, vulnerability, empathy, shedding light, and how we’re more alike than unlike, as Maya Angelou said. I remember that I can help other people by sharing my story and by being bold and unashamed.

Sue Monk Kidd, the author of "The Secret Life of Bees," says “The truth is, in order to heal we need to tell our stories and have them witnessed… the story itself becomes a vessel that holds us up, that sustains, that allows us to order our jumbled experiences into meaning.” Ultimately, we must share, process, connect and heal. We will not be ashamed. We are human beings of light and power who all experience ups and downs and successes and embarrassing moments.

My younger self-needed that, and I’m giving it to her as best I can right now. I learned we must practice talking to ourselves like we would to the younger version of ourselves, small children who want love and peace and understanding.

Ashley, I tell you this. You are so strong. You are going through some problems that are incredibly valid, no matter what you or the media tells you, no matter the lack of stories you hear that match your own. Your feelings matter and are welcome here. Eat that ice cream. Don’t count the calories. Appreciate what your body can do for you when it’s being nurtured. Love it at all sizes. Learn how to change what you can and accept what you cannot. When no one validates you, validate yourself. Know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, things will get better. College, despite what you will face in it, will be so much better. You and your body deserve respect. You are worth more than what you have gone through and the ways some people have treated you. You are not alone in what you face, and you have people who love you well as you are and no matter what burdens you carry. You are accepted.

I come home to my younger self, my current self, and my future self every day. I talk to her with compassion. Oh, how she is worth it. How far she has come.

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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40 Small Things That Make College Students Happy

It doesn't take much...
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1. When class is canceled.

2. When the coffee shop you stop at five minutes before your 8 a.m. has a short line.

3. Coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Open note tests.

5. Or even better, take home tests.

6. The unofficial assigned seating process that that takes place after the first week or so of classes.

7. Thursday nights. (because in college, Thursday qualifies as the weekend.)

8. Sales.

9. Or once again, even better, free things.

10. Specifically free food.

11. Dogs.

12. Dogs on campus.

13. Tailgates and Saturday afternoon football games.

14. Finding an already completed Quizlet for your exam.

15. Having an extra 30 minutes for a nap, and if you're lucky, an hour.

16. Netflix.

17. When your roommate takes out the trash.

18. Weekends after test weeks.

19. The rare blessing of a curve on an exam.

20. Getting out of class early.

21. How in college, it is socially expectable to wear a t-shirt everyday.

22. Being able to walk from class to class or eat in the dining hall without having to see anyone you know. (and thank goodness too because you probably don't look too good.)

23. Crossing things off of your to-do list.

24. Your best-friends that you make in college.

25. A full tank of gas.

26. Seeing a new face everyday.

27. Crawling back into bed after your 8 or 9 a.m. (or after any class that ends with a.m.)

28. Care packages.

29. No cover charges.

30. When adults tell you that it is okay that you have no idea what you want to do with your life yet. (regardless of what parents or your advisor may say.)

31. Pizza.

32. Finding out you weren't the only one who did poorly on the exam.

33. Deciding not to buy the textbook, and never needing it.

34. Finding the perfect gif to express how you're feeling. (Michael Scott just get it.)

35. Weekends at home because...

36. Pets.

37. Mom's home cooked pie and Dad's steak dinners,

38. Spring Break.

39. Road trips.

40. When it finally starts to cool down outside so you can show up to class dry instead of dripping in sweat.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Wideman

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10 Ellie Schnitt One-Liners Every Girl In Her 20s Needs To Hear

From Sorority Girl Twitter to voice of reason real quick.

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As some of you right now probably is, there once was a day I too had no idea who Ellie Schnitt was. Now she one of my all-time favorite people; and we've never even met.

In 2018, she seemingly appeared overnight on everyone's Twitter timeline. Now she's living up every current Odyssey writer's fantasy by creating content for Barstool Sports straight out of school. While some dismiss Ellie as "everything wrong with Twitter" simply for tweeting her daily thoughts, I think she's vital to the platform.

In this day and age, it's hard to be a female, especially one in their 20s. There are expectations, disappointments, laughs and tears. Now more than anything we ladies need to a have a voice in the void looking out for us and letting us know it's OK to feel how we feel because we're not alone.

Here are some one-liners every twenty-something needs to hear by another twenty-something who just gets it.

1. When you're having trouble accepting that your feelings are valid.

Let's face it, the world would be a much better place if we were just honest with everyone about what we REALLY want out of life.

2. When the world is trying to convince you that being "selfish" is a negative trait. 

Ladies, it's time we stop considering being selfish as something to be ashamed of. Sure, there are certain circumstances, but learning how to put your own needs first is part of being successful.

3. When you need a quick reality check.

Part of learning how to be selfish also involves learning when and where to be selfish. There are times when you come first, but there are also times when you need to be a pillar of support for someone else, it's only fair.

4. When men try to knock you down a peg but it's 2019.

Highlighter in 2019 is the equivalent of belly button rings and low rise jeans in the mid-2000s, if you've got it, then rock it.

5. When you feel like you never even left undergrad and life feels strangely familiar.

Despite what your Facebook and Instagram feeds seem to be telling you, it's OK not to have your life completely together directly after undergrad. Sometimes it takes a year )or a few) to know exactly what you want to do with your life, that's exactly what your 20s are for.

6. When you start to question how much you should put up with.

Why deal with someone more than you have to? Sometimes the bare necessities is all you need.

7. When you need more some self-love than usual. 

Snap a selfie when you're having a really good makeup day, heck, post it while you're at it even though you just posted a pic yesterday. Take some nudes solely for the reason to admire yourself in them, it's OK to feel yourself in 2019.

8. When you're trying to explain that you HAVE closure but also kinda don't.

You know when you're scrolling through Instagram and you see the man who was never really your man suddenly eloped with his girlfriend of five minutes and you're still having wine nights with your dog? Yeah, this describes exactly how that feels.

9. Sometimes, we all still need even more reassurance than we thought we did. 

But in the end, that "break-up" with your man that was never your man helped you grow into the person you are today. Heartbreak and all, you've grown stronger through it all.

10. And most importantly, when you need to remind yourself what the real issues in life are.

Like I said, you're in your 20s You're allowed to have fun and enjoy yourself, and most importantly scam men for free alcohol.

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