I know many people used to / still do balk at the idea of others expressing personal thoughts and stories on Facebook. I, myself, used to be one of those people. Something along the lines of “This is Facebook / the Internet, not your diary! No one wants to hear it. Stop complaining.”

(PSA: With some awesome Facebook features now, there are ways to curate your feed if there is truly some bad stuff out there you don’t want in your face every day, but that’s another story  …)

For a long time, I didn’t share much beyond the surface level on here for fear of being judged or criticized for openly speaking my deepest emotions and thoughts. Especially given that the dawn of Facebook coincided with a time of life where not only was I a teenage girl in high school, having to handle all that comes with that, but also during a time of personal pain, struggle, and deep insecurity with my identity and worth as a person. I wore a mask to make it through the day.

As the last 10 years (wow!) have passed since I first joined the Facebook community, the Internet has quickly become woven into the way we connect as humans. During that time, I have watched as it has transformed into a place of vulnerability, which is the only way it will last, if you ask me. Scrolling through a newsfeed of “Tasty” recipe videos, dog videos, cute babies, vacation pictures, etc. is great (don’t get me wrong I enjoy these things, too…), but I don’t believe that’s TRULY what keeps many of us coming back. We humans inherently seek connection, and this is one way we do so in the modern era.

Yes, there are definite downsides to our attachment and, at times excessive, use of social media / the Internet. Yes, it allows some people who are angry or troubled to hide behind their screens and scribe hateful messages without consideration for the human(s) on the receiving end. But like anything, I think that has more to do with the level of mutual respect we each choose to bring when participating on these platforms than it does with the platform itself.

That being said, I have also seen the beauty of it; it has given so many more people a voice to share their stories, feel seen and be heard, receive support, inspire and be inspired, unite, connect and collaborate in ways that they never would have had they not casually linked up on social media at one point in time…

For many years, my own protective armor was securely locked in place; I wasn’t ready to be vulnerable and soft. And that’s OK. Over time, as I began to test out taking off my armor for seconds, minutes, hours, days at a time, I began to realize that I was slowly but surely growing and expanding each time I freed myself, opening my soul to a fuller spectrum of emotion and expression. I was able to see that this was just the beginning, and there was so much more in store for me to explore.

As I grew, the pain of squeezing back into that rigid metal suit and the little safety I gained from it began to feel restrictive and limiting. It was no longer worth it; I no longer wanted to choose safety at the expense of losing out on a fuller experience of life. I did the inner work and began to recognize the strength I have (you have, we all have…); enough strength that I knew it would be OK to present myself fully and proudly to the world, even (especially) the vulnerable, soft parts.

A friend of mine posted a beautiful personal story of her own today, which has inspired me to share this with you all. So, thank you, friend.  I want to encourage you to share your stories – not necessarily on Facebook, if that doesn’t feel comfortable – but to tell your stories out loud to someone you feel safe sharing it with. That might even be Mother Nature, one of my favorite listeners, the ultimate holder of space, and the alchemist of your worries, sorrow, and pain.

Free yourself to move into a larger story. To be real with one another. To make peace with your stories through writing, understanding, and sharing them. Even if you don’t feel it just yet, know that when you are ready, your stories are important and (patiently, eagerly) waiting to be told.

In my own experiences with sharing through various outlets, many people have approached me after sharing, all saying something along the lines of it being “refreshing” to hear authenticity amongst all the chatter and feeling gratitude for the vulnerability. Well, I say thank you for listening. Truly.

It can be easy look at one another from the outside, believing we have it the worst and others have it so easy, wishing the pain away. But if we can all be someone who shares our own truth and TRULY listens to others share their own…wow…the possibilities are endless. Including more fully recognizing the incredible interconnectedness of our souls at depths greater than we ever could have imagined.

Have a wonderful Thursday! Take it one moment at a time. You’ve got this.