We live in a highly competitive society in which the smug smile of success is constantly and ever more subtly advertised as the ultimate state to be achieved. Our busy, economic minded culture is by definition a highly competitive one, in which expressions of negativity, doubt or sadness are generally discouraged. This is even more prominent within social media.
I began to wonder how much separation we are actually creating from only posting status updates and photos of us counting our blessings, and seemingly doing “amazing” things, with “amazing” friends, in “amazing” locations. We create these avatars that only seem to experience success but not failure; joy, but not sorrow; the good, but not the bad; the pretty, but not the ugly; the extraordinary, but not the mundane.
I am guilty of this myself as I regularly post pictures of me jumping up mid-air with a big smile whilst hiking amongst the highest mountains in the world, or looking so peaceful and content sitting on a sandy beach with the most stunning sunset as a backdrop. I suspect that the image/avatar I have created is one that most would be envious of, a lady of leisure who does not seem to be concerned with making a living, instead enjoying herself in beautiful, exotic locations all over the world.
Whilst that is true to a certain extent, what you do not see – or what I did not share – were the moments when I was falling apart (and there were plenty of those), sobbing in despair like a child, despite being surrounded by some of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen.
The moments when I feel crushed by the frustration of realising there was in fact no escaping or running away from the darkest shadows of my own emotional hell, regardless of where I am physically. You don’t see that in my status updates though.
As human beings, there can be this intrinsic sense of loneliness and feeling of separation from others. When we are faced with our own difficult emotions or “weaknesses”, we often feel that we are the only one in the world who feels that way, as it appears that everyone else is having such a great time and having it all.
During my travel/ journey in the last year or so, I have experienced the power of being honest and vulnerable. To myself and to others. In a healing workshop, I sat in a roomful of people from all over the world and it didn’t matter what our names were, what we do for a living, where we are from and all the usual things you would typically try to find out from strangers. We were there to open up to each other, to share ALL aspects of ourselves. Not only the good, but also the bad, the smelly and the ugly.
The connection that can be built from this openness to each other is immense. It makes me realise that I am not the only person in the world that feels scared, weak, insecure, lonely, etc. To be able to admit to ourselves and to others our deepest fear and our imperfections is, in my view, a courageous act. And it is a contageous act because it allows others to be open and vulnerable too.
I have also built real connection within hours simply by letting people know how I REALLY am feeling, rather than the usual “I am fine, thanks” response. How often do you really share honestly with another human being?
It is of course not the cultural norm to start launching into a full heart to heart when your work colleague politely asks you how you are doing, waiting next to the coffee machine. In fact, we are even trained to put up a brave and positive facade, often lying to ourselves and each other.
What you are really thinking and feeling could be: “I had a terrible argument with my girlfriend last night, I can never seem to please her enough. I feel lonely, I am turning 40 next year and I’m still not married, I am scared of being alone forever, I think something is wrong of me, I hate my job but I don’t have the courage to leave“. But of course, you would politely answer: “I’m doing very well, thank you. I had a fantastic dinner with my girlfriend last night at this new restaurant. You should try the chef degustation menu“.
We are denying our own truth and missing opportunities to let others into parts of who we really are. We also deny them the chance to share that they have the same fears and worries, and therefore the precious chance to feel a real connection with another human being, to know that regardless of our age, our gender, our ethnicity, our culture, or whatever apparent differences, we all share the same bittersweet experience of humanity.
I want to spread this vulnerability. This openness. This transparency. To me, this is mainly what YOGA is really about: Being real and feeling connected, as opposed to just putting my body in a fancy posture on a beach, taking a photograph of it and posting it online. I will start by confessing some of my ugly truths, and I would like to heartily invite you to join me in this challenge.
1. Part of me is scared as to how you will react to this post, how you may judge me, and my ability to write. What if you don’t like what I write? What if you don’t agree? Would you still love me now that I have exposed more of my true self to you?
2. Part of me thinks something is wrong with me and wonder why I feel discontent and have to go searching for happiness when I was born to a life more privileged than the majority of the world.
3. Part of me feels lonely and unworthy so there is a need to regularly check whatsapp, facebook and instagram. I want your validation and to show me my worthiness by clicking LIKES on my posts.