One of the greatest challenge that we can face in life is putting ourselves out there. I think that at some point, we have all turned our back on something that really matters to us just because we were too afraid to put ourselves out there. Maybe it was a challenge, a career path, a new project, a relationship, an adventure, a health issue, a financial matter, an opinion, a change of lifestyle, or a specific situation. Whatever it is, sometimes we hold ourselves back and don’t take any step further because we are vulnerable, we are uncertain, we don’t know what to expect and we are afraid of the results.
We want to belong, we want to be loved, we want to be accepted, we want to be recognized, we want to be admired. And we are afraid of being rejected, of being ridiculed, of being exposed, of being labelled, of not being good enough, of not being worthy. So we choose to stay on the safe side, to stay in our comfort zone and not to put ourselves out there.
We are afraid of quitting our boring job and pursuing our passions because we seek safety and stability. We’re afraid of starting our own business because we don’t know for sure that we will succeed, because we’re not sure that we’re good enough, that we have what it takes, and because we think that we have too much to lose. So instead, we just stay in our safe and boring job and remain feeling miserable and unfulfilled because hey, we need that paycheck at the end of the month.
We are afraid to speak our ideas out loud because we doubt ourselves and because we don’t want to risk being ridiculed or laughed at. So we keep our ideas to ourselves, while we watch others shine with their own ideas. And we end up feeling bitter and unsatisfied with ourselves, and maybe even resentful of other people’s moments of fame.
We are afraid of speaking or writing to an audience because we worry that what we have to say will not be interesting, useful or relevant enough for them. Because why would they care about what we have to say? What could we possibly say that will add value to their life and be worthy of their time?
We are afraid of opening up and sharing our pain, our stories and our thoughts with our friends or our close ones because we don’t want to be judged and we don’t want to appear weak. We are afraid of being ourselves, of being vulnerable and showing our true selves because we don’t want people to love us less. So we spend our life being someone else, faking happiness and hiding our imperfections.
We are afraid of standing up for what we believe in, of going against the currant because we don’t know what the consequences will be and because we don’t want to be criticized for being different. We are afraid that if we have a different opinion or approach, that we will not belong and that we will not be accepted.
We are afraid of loving too much so that we don’t get hurt. We are afraid of sharing our feelings and emotions, of speaking what’s inside our hearts so that we don’t get a negative response. We are afraid of putting too much effort in a relationship because we’re not sure if it will work out. We are afraid of being the first to say “I love you” because what if we don’t hear “I love you” back? So we stay guarded, control our feelings and miss out on the thrills that love could bring.
We are simply afraid of being exposed, of being seen, of putting ourselves out there, of taking chances because we don’t know what the outcome will be. If we could just predict the outcome, if we could just guarantee that we won’t fail, that we won’t be rejected, that nothing will backfire, then maybe we wouldn’t feel so vulnerable, so afraid, and we would feel more at ease with ourselves and we would take more chances. But we don’t know what to expect and so we remain vulnerable people, we worry too much about people’s reactions and how they perceive us, and we are forever afraid of putting our heart on the line and of what might go wrong.
What we don’t realize is that if we don’t embrace our vulnerability, if we don’t put ourselves out there, we miss out on the best things that life has to offer. In my previous post (What if no one cared?), I asked you to think about all the things you could do and all that you can be if you could just stop worrying about what other people think and how society perceives you. Now I want you to think of all the happiness that you can bring in to your life if you could just go ahead and put yourself out there.
Think of how great it would be to do what you love, to excel at it, and to make money out of it. Think of how self-fulfilled you would be if you never had to go back to that boring job. Think of how proud you would be if your ideas were acknowledged and if you too could have your moment of fame. Think of how rewarding it would be if you could touch people’s lives with your words, your speeches or your writings. Think of how deeper the friendship could be if you actually open up, let your guard down and share your stories. Think of how proud you would be if people admired you for being different and for standing up for your beliefs. Think of how exciting it would be if you allow yourself to love deeply. Think of all the butterflies that could fly in your stomach if the other person says they love you too.
When you embrace your vulnerability, you can make all these things happen. But when you try to avoid vulnerability, you just limit yourself and all that you can be. So it’s OK to be vulnerable, it’s OK to put yourself out there, it’s OK to be seen for what you really are, it’s OK to open up, it’s OK to love with all your heart, it’s OK to take a chance. And it’s OK to fail and to mess up. Even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted to, at least you tried and at least you were strong enough to face your fears and to put yourself out there. And trust me, you’ll end up even more unhappy when you don’t try. Our biggest regrets are not the things we have done wrong, but the things we have not done. And the two words that haunt us the most in life are “What IF?”
So tell me, when was the last time you really put yourself out there?