S I was taught to not show weakness, specifically, my emotions. My dad always said to me that by allowing people to see me sad, angry, scared, etc., would give people the reaction they desired and could possibly be used against me. I have lived much of my life by this theory and in many circumstances, it has proven to be the best strategy. One example is when I played softball. As a pitcher I remained stoic in times of stress. In days that I was not on top of my game I would have to not let being behind in the count, my previous walks, or being down on the score board rattle me. I learned to remain calm and not show any emotion, my nickname became the “Ice Princess.” This was a good quality of an athlete at a young age as many of the other girls would begin crying or throwing a visible fit. This would affect their pitching and ultimately get the best of them. This was not an issue I ever faced. This strategy also helped in high school when I was getting bullied. Instead of reacting, I kept my head high and learned to be the bigger person and not react to the things that people would say or do. Eventually the bullying stopped, I assume they got bored of taunting a girl that gave no reaction.
As I have gotten older, being stoic turned into a giant wall that I had built around me. It forced me to hold in my emotions, push people away, and at times feel very alone. While not showing my emotions may have worked at times, in some situations I wish I had. Relationships that ended due to the fact that they thought I didn’t care, friendships that I was too stubborn to mend, and with clients that I wasn’t truly transparent could have all been prevented by just being honest and letting people in. I have built a persona that makes me appear to me cold and heartless when in reality I am very compassionate and empathetic. Sometimes I have felt that being guarded was better than getting hurt because once you reveal your true thoughts and feelings you become vulnerable and exposed. I felt that if I never let anyone in that I couldn’t get hurt but that has obviously not been the case. Finding the line of when to share your emotions with someone and when not to is extremely fine and can be difficult to distinguish.
I have learned that no one is entitled to my feelings but I should allow myself to open up to the people I trust and love me. At times we will find ourselves opening up to people that are not truly trust worthy and don’t actually love us and closing off to those that actually do. Unfortunately, all you can really do is trust your gut and follow your heart. You are going to get hurt at times, but being scared to be open will never get you anywhere. But if you never try, you will never know. You will learn and grow, but it is better to live and learn than to live with regret. N