I never used to be vulnerable.

Not only did I not do it, I avoided it like the plague.

I didn’t believe I needed support. I was very set on turning down help and always doing it *on my own*. I believed that spilling out my emotions to others and asking them for help was placing an undue burden on them. (Even though I was happy to do it for others. Makes total sense, right?)

I didn’t truly love myself, which in turn made it really hard for me to experience and receive true love from anyone outside of my family. I also never let guys know I was interested because I believed that the risk of those feelings not being mutual wasn’t worth it. That I would look like an idiot and a fool for ever thinking that someone might like me back.

But all of this has slowly shifted in me in recent years.

Now I share openly. I have honest, raw, and difficult conversations with others and myself about how I’m feeling, things that are happening, and/or what needs to change.

I push myself to get creative and step out of my comfort zone of what I know I can do well and try things I suck at and know nothing about. Things that others might not *get* or approve of.

Now I remind myself that support isn’t only ‘nice to have’ – it is a must-have, in whatever form it comes in. I know that the people who care about me want to know the truth of how I’m doing and feeling. Not that I’m just ‘fine’ (in the knee-jerk monotone, sorta sad and numbing response) or ‘good’ (in the super-high-pitched tone because if I was to speak the truth and use my normal tone of voice, I’d probably start to cry) or ‘busy’ (in the annoyed tone as if someone filled my calendar for me and I had no say in it).

Now I TRULY love and accept myself. Which in turn has also been an amazing way to learn how to open myself up to receiving love from those around me, believing I deserve it.

And one of the biggest pieces in this journey for me has been my relationship with this man. He stands steadily by me, accepting every last part of me, even the parts I’ve found challenging to accept (Especially at the times when I feel like I probably wouldn’t even do that for me…)

So all this is to say, find your support system and use your relationships with those people to help yourself grow. It does not necessarily have to be a romantic relationship. And it’s most likely not just one person.

But find those people who stand by your side through some seriously painful SHIT and bawling your eyes out or screaming in rage…and still love you at the end. The people who will cheer you on regardless of what you’re doing but because YOU’RE doing it.

In any type of relationship (work, friends, lovers, family, etc.), it can be easy to get frustrated with these people and blame your challenges and suffering on them. I know I used to do it. However, the minute I stopped pointing the finger outward and started looking inside, I grew much more as a person and understood the sources of my pain much more clearly.

To be clear, I know people sometimes do really mean and messed-up things. So looking in isn’t so much about *blaming* yourself for everything, it includes addressing challenges that trigger you as well as knowing when someone no longer needs to be a part of your inner circle. Because by looking in, you were able to realize you’re holding onto a ship that sailed off long ago and no longer serves you, not that this particular fight or wrong-doing is really the problem.

Re-read this a few times to let it sink in. Your relationships can help you grow; it’s a choice.

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