I have a fear. It’s of opening up too much. Or too little. But that contradiction seems in keeping with the paradoxes shared at the party tonight.
Before tonight I could have easily named the people in my life that I would really open up to.
The list would have been short, not because the majority of my friends are superficial, but because I tend to sit back and listen rather than tell about myself. People have never hesitated to pour out their hearts and life stories to me, but if asked about myself I tend to smile and give just enough of an answer to satisfy curiosity. Why? My first thought is that they wouldn’t really want to know anyway. My second thought is that I don’t want to think about it myself. Am I running from deep thought? I crave it, and I crave the connection that comes from sharing it, but I’m afraid of that connection as well.
I was warned before I joined the Writing Center family that my walls would come down. I was ready. I was excited. I had no idea it would happen so quickly. Within two weeks I find myself sharing my biggest fear with an entire room full of people? At least I had two weeks; Nathan had two days.
I know I am not the only one who struggled to select one biggest fear, just one to dig to the heart of and lay before the group. I skimmed lightly over the tops of several, finally settling on one and proceeding to share it, but as soon as I had finished I wondered: had I picked the right one? Was it really the biggest, the most pressing? Or was there another fear I would have benefited more from sharing and dissecting?
Then a beautiful thing happened: as we continued around the circle my other fears were brought up one by one. Inadequacy. Attachment, or lack thereof. Having to be the strong one. And on and on. It was as though the entire group was a mirror, reflecting my own struggles and giving me insight into myself through the eyes of someone else.
As I stated earlier, I have a fear of opening up too little. I need to feel that connection. But my need to feel safe is more urgent, so I hold back, offering small and often ambiguous tastes of my thoughts to those friends I feel could rise to the challenge of interpreting them. Some do, others don’t care; either way I’m safe, because I haven’t given enough of myself to be hurt. But tonight I was able to share with people I had never tested—and I felt safe. Another paradox to add to our list.