How open are you?  Are you able to talk to others about yourself easily or is it hard?  Do you feel comfortable doing so or do you dread it?  Are you willing to take the risk and suffer the possible consequences if you do?  Or are you catching your breath just by reading this and fear the possible exposure of your deepest thoughts will result in ridicule or rejection?


For years I have been afraid of being exposed.  Why?  Because then my life’s dreams and thoughts are in someone else’s hands and that is quite scary to me.  I have always been a little self-conscious and insecure and now to let go of that for even a mille-second was terrifying to me.  It took the power away from me and placed in someone else’s hands.


What if I revealed information about myself and that person laughed at me or thought I was strange?  Worse yet, what if they rejected me and told me to go away?  How could I recover from that?


We all fear this at some point, but we still need to make ourselves available to one another and that means we need to invest in our relationships in order to maintain them.  We cannot expect a relationship to be one-sided; we need to put forth an effort as well.  Yes, that means we need to take a risk every now and then in order to do this.  Breathe slowly, and let me expound on this topic.


In this world we face rejection all of the time.  Will the new guy I like find me attractive, will my parents always love me no matter what, will I find friends at my new home, will I be able to get along with my co-workers and many more scenarios we can conjure up.  We need to drop this veil of shame or fear that has attached itself to our persona.  Yes, we are different, but that is a good thing.  We can learn so much more about one another and respect where that other person is coming from or why they behave the way they do.  We just need to be open, willing to listen and have a desire to be there for someone else.  We need to put ourselves out there in order to reap the benefits of having someone in your life.  We all want to belong and we deserve to belong to someone or something.  We have options and we need to explore them and then weigh the cost involved in order to make our choice.


Before I discuss the options, let’s take a look at where we are right now.  Right now, we are afraid that our differences will divide us, make us stand out like a sore thumb, or shut us down.  But do they really?  Face it; do you want to be just like everyone else; thus having everything in common?  There is no richness of differences, no lessons to learn from a new perspective, is that what we really want?  That is so bland.  It is like eating a salad everyday, but never adding new ingredients or textures; such as tomatoes, cheese, carrots, olives and salad dressing.  Everyday you just eat the lettuce alone.  We refuse to add more in fear of what others or how others may react.  We shoot the decision down in the thought process before we can even attempt to take that risk.  We would rather accept the status quo instead of taking a chance and tipping over that apple cart of fear.  We say we do this to keep the peace, but we do this because we are afraid of risking any exposure or leaking any information about ourselves.  Folks, that isn’t living and it sure is not a building block for creating friendships or any relationship.


Think of it this way.  You are a unique individual and you have attributes, thoughts, and words (maybe even sage advice) to offer people.  Shouldn’t that be something you are happy to give of yourself for others to partake of?  You give of yourself and someone gives of themselves is what friendship and relationships do.  The giving and taking is what strengthens that bond.  So how do you move on?  You need to explore your options, weigh them carefully and determine which one is the most viable and then jump in.


Here are your options:  You could wrap yourself in some delusion and recreate your image (read:  insecure person lies to create who they are or who they want others to see them as).  You can tell yourself it is okay because this is what the other person likes or wants in a friendship/relationship.  Watch out for the snare because now you have built a foundation based on falsehood and foundations if they are not strong, will form cracks.  These cracks may become irreparable and ruin your newfound friendship and future friendships.  Is it worth building a friendship on unsteady ground because you are afraid to face your fears?


Option two is just walking away from everyone and everything.  You tell yourself it is safer this way and you will not get hurt.  Again you are lying to yourself.  You are the one getting hurt because this will well up inside of you and fester for years to come.  You will become bitter, angry, and lonely.  Are we meant to live on this earth alone and in pain?  Are we not meant to enjoy the beauty, the bounty of this life and share it with others?  Don’t we all deserve to have that someone in our life and be happy?  Being alone is a hefty price to pay when we decide to avoid having a well-balanced life.


The final option is to swallow your fear, look it straight in the eye and say enough is enough.  Revel in your differences for that is what makes you who you are.  You bring uniqueness to this relationship, you can teach someone else and they, through their differences, can teach you.  Is there risk involved?  In all things there is, but we need to take these risks every chance we get.  How else can we find out about one another, can we learn to love and respect one another unless we climb that ladder and jump off of that bridge called fear?


I speak from experience.  I have taken chances and I have been burned from those choices, but I have learned something from every choice I made.  I have met some amazing individuals who have added such richness to my life and yes, I have met some people who have sought to tear me down and break me.  What I have learned is that some lessons will be painful. I cannot guarantee which ones will and which ones won’t, but the risk is worth trying.


I have experienced the beauty of life by choosing to risk my fear of rejection and take a chance on love.  What I have gained is so much more than if I had just refused to take a chance.  I have put myself out there and exposed my inner most thoughts and dreams and I have realized others have been in my position and they took the same risk.  I do not regret doing this, for if I hadn’t, I would have regretted the missed opportunities more.  Take me or leave me is my motto, not be afraid and walk away.  Go at your own pace, reveal only what you feel comfortable with, and let it slowly happen.  You will be pleasantly surprised more often rather than dismayed and discouraged.  A friendship should start slow and have plenty of room to grow. Pour the foundation, pave the paths, and let it blossom in its own time.  Weed out the negative and focus on the positive, water it constantly with love, kindness and patience.  Only then can you reap the blessings that it bestows upon you.  You will find in the end that the risk dwindles and it’s the investment made on both sides that will shine through.

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