Vulnerability and the wish for becoming whole.
By Sarah Goshman.
Each of us receives thousands of messages every day that we are not enough.
Our bodies are not enough. Our possessions are not enough. Our lives are not enough.
But for me, the negative messages about my body have always held the most sway.
The realization that my body was not socially acceptable began at the age of 10, while sitting at the fourth grade lunch table, listening to a group of my friends criticize another classmate for her weight… a weight which I shared.
The ripple effects of that moment have spread through my life in ways that I cannot begin to count.
On one hand, I tried to hide myself from the potential shame and stigma through invisibility. I thought that if I was quiet enough and kept my head down, I could stay safe from criticism.
On the other hand, I became a raging perfectionist. I tried to increase my value by being good at as many things as possible: school, sports, hobbies, work, friendships. I hoped that I could somehow make up for my shameful body through other achievements, since the one achievement I could never seem to reach was changing my body (though not for lack of trying).
However, while there is nothing wrong with being good at things, there was always an underlying sense that I was hiding something — a sense that I was trying to prevent anyone from seeing that really, deep down, I was never going to be enough.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill for self-acceptance.
Fortunately, as much as these kinds of stories of shame can affect us subconsciously, we also get to choose how much we believe in them.
We get to decide whether we are, in fact, enough.
(And the answer, Dear Reader, is always Yes. Yes, you are… exactly as you are right now.)
For me, one of the best ways to that Promised Land of self-acceptance has been through sharing my stories.
By opening up about the things that make us feel shame and finding the courage to be vulnerable, we free ourselves both from the stories’ power over us and from the belief that we are alone in our differences.
The video below is an attempt to share my story. When I first told the story at a story slam contest, I just wanted to let it out into the world and find some release from its steely grip on my self-image.
But as I have shared it with friends and colleagues, they have — in turn — started to tell their own stories: stories of their own struggles with being bullied or shamed, feelings of being invisible, and worries that they too were not enough.
And through this process, I have realized that really, truly, nobody is different. We all have things that we think are weird or shameful — things that many of us have tried to hide for years or decades — and these things can be part of what makes us who we are.
These things are not things to be ashamed of. They are part of what makes each of us beautiful and unique. They are part of why we are enough.
And I hope that in the process of sharing your story, you too can heal and become whole. My wish for you is that you are released from shame and stigma, through the process of vulnerability.
Because you are beautiful.
And you are enough.
Sarah Goshman is an unconventional life and marketing coach and mindful badass who likes to help freaks, geeks and creative people design lives and businesses that are unique and delightfully their own. Find out about her upcoming class on ‘Talking to Fear’ and get a free audio download of strategies for dealing with overwhelm. You can also chat with her or join in as she makes bad jokes on Twitter.