“So what have you learned about yourself from blogging?” he asked me.

For whatever reason, the question smacked me in the face unexpectedly, and I suddenly felt the need to prove myself, to prove that all my words, my shameless vulnerability, my risks had all been for a greater purpose–that I had, in fact, learned something about myself.

And I did, but I don’t know if it was anything earth shattering.

I learned that I need people.  I sat with my boyfriend, quite some time ago, as we tend to do, and talked. At that time, he was my soon-to-be, but that didn’t seem to scare this rather unfiltered version of myself from sounding like a total asshole when I said, “I never want to need anyone.”  His kind eyes looked at me kind of sadly, and I realized how certifiably insane I had become.  But I didn’t front.  I continued to explain my painfully guarded perspective on relationships and love, rationalizing not only to defend my opinions and my pride, but also to reaffirm my convictions to myself, because I sure as hell wasn’t convinced about them myself.

But out of all of this exposure, I learned that I wanted people to know what I was afraid of, because I wanted them to connect with me, I wanted them to see a part of themselves in me, and I wanted to know that others cared.  And I learned that that’s okay–it is, in fact, allowed.  It’s attention-seeking, definitely, but not with the negative connotation that generally accompanies such an utterance.  We all seek attention from others, we crave contact, both emotional and physical, and this blog, as well as my thirty-day stint of scary revelations, is and was a way to make that contact.

I learned that vulnerability rewards much more than it takes away.  My mom e-mailed me after one of my posts, courageously.  She inferred her presence in one my posts, and she inferred correctly, although she was not the only one present in my mind when I composed that particular post.  “I’m sorry,” she said, with no hint of anger or indignation in her voice.  She wrote more, but her two selfless words healed something within me that had long since been awaiting to be healed.

I was scared to be vulnerable, to let people truly get to know me.  According to my ex-boyfriend, there are people out there that have unsubscribed to my feed on Facebook, and people who were apparently annoyed by my posting.  I suppose I expected that.  You can’t win them all, but for every person who has unsubscribed from my posts, I have had another that has enjoyed connecting with me.  If nothing else, I was able to connect and reach understanding with someone close to me.  My vulnerability has rewarded me with rekindled friendships and conversations, all surrounding ideas that are truly universal.  If it wasn’t for taking the chance–for daring greatly–I would not be able to reap these rewards.

I learned that shame is toxic, but that it erodes in the presence of courage.  I think I’ve lived my life shaming myself up until now.  Fear may not be synonymous with shame, but it is a close relative.  When we fear without confrontation of those fears, we only limit ourselves.  There were days when I posted with great apprehension, fearful of what my words might elicit.  But I survived, and I’m all the better for it.

I encourage you to try writing 30 things you’re afraid to say, even if you don’t share it with the world. Sharing it with yourself–becoming vulnerable to yourself–could be the greatest thing you’ve ever done.

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