This week I have become acutely aware of something that I was only passively aware of previously. I am completely unguarded.
Recently I have been in several group situations where people have been sharing experiences. It is common at Youthline, it’s called ‘process’. Process tends to make most people extremely anxious. They get adrenaline rushes and shakes and flushes when they think they are going to have to say something. Or they get equally nervous because they feel they should say something but they can’t think of anything that they deem important enough that they feel comfortable sharing. They think that people will either judge them for what they say or wonder why on earth they bothered saying it.
I don’t experience any of those feelings. I am completely comfortable talking about myself. I am never in a situation where I feel that whatever it is that I choose to reveal or say may not be of value in some way, whether it be to other people or just to myself. More importantly, I am not afraid of what people might think of me as a result of what I share. I don’t know if that’s arrogance. I don’t think so. I think it’s just something that I’ve always felt. I’ve never known any different.
I brought it up the other night in my personal development group, expecting the room to be split fairly evenly with people that keep a guard up and those that don’t. Man was I wrong. I was a lone cowboy.
Now I’m noticing it more and more, kinda like when you learn a new word that you are sure you’ve never heard before in your entire life and then suddenly you hear it 5 times in one week. It happens to a degree in my relationships. If I want to know something, I just ask. It would never occur to me not to. I now know that people often wonder about things and are left wondering forever because they don’t ask. By their rules, they wouldn’t want to talk about it so they don’t ask others.
While I am sure that a small part of this phenomena is unique to me, I think the lion’s share is the result of the family in which I grew up. My siblings are similar. An interesting example of that is my sister’s quest to have a baby. Everyone we know knows that she is doing IVF. She talks about it openly. In her view (which is one that I share) it is not something that needs to be kept secret. By sharing you are able to seek support from other people, perhaps offer support in return. But the number of people that come out of the woodwork once the subject is raised and admit that they too are in a similar situation is stunning. It’s like they feel they need permission to talk about it.
While I am incredibly grateful for possessing the openness trait, it does have a flip side. I find myself getting irritated, even downright annoyed at times, when people keep things from me. I wonder why they don’t share since I am. My rational side knows that it is so completely within their rights to do so, and that everyone has their own boundaries, but there is still a part of me that feels bugged by it. I have sensed the irritation for a very long time, but I have just never been able to put it in context until now.
I guess if everyone had the same boundaries life’d get pretty crowded round the edges.