Shame, Vulnerability, And Self Acceptance
Pursuing the life you want for yourself and truly embracing who you are will be the most challenging, rewarding, and necessary journey you will ever go on. I hope you stick with it though. You’re worth it.
My name is Taylor. I’m the Founder of Taylor Rachelle, a home fragrance and scented body care company. I started this company because I wanted to create something that makes people feel good and reminds them to slow down and take care of themselves. By slowing down, I believe people can find some mental clarity so they can be more intentional about the lives they’re creating for themselves.
How do I do all of that exactly? Well, I create products with meaning. My first candle collection was released as The Art of Living Collection with each candle named after an art related word.
Art has always been my comfort. Art museums. Art events. Art organizations. There’s something about the idea of expression that ties into my fascination with personal freedom. It’s being vulnerable. It’s the act of creating something out of nothing simply for yourself.
In the age of social media, we are all creators and critics. I know I’m not alone in being self conscious because of this.
We live in a society of mirrors and fractured reflections of what it means to live in the world.
Social media paints a dramatic illusion that we love to sit back and watch. It’s unhealthy, but we’re human. Caring about social life and keeping up with impressions is nothing new.
Shame is Learned Early
We learn to be critical at an early age. I’ve always been a rather sentimental quiet type. I started writing reflective works and poems when I was in 3rd grade. That’s the earliest I can remember at least. I started a blog on Blogspot when I was in the 8th grade. Psychology Today was myfavorite website in high school. I’ve always just been really interested in deep introspection, expression, and understanding human behavior.
As an introvert, I’m an observer. Growing up, I didn’t speak to everyone unless I had something I seriously wanted to say. My mom says school administrators wanted to put me into a different classroom because I wouldn’t talk to anyone.
I knew how to talk. I just didn’t want to. I learned though, that if I didn’t behave in a way that’s expected by others, I won’t be accepted. I’d be considered having something wrong with me. I was too different. Out of place.
I translated that feeling into learning to push myself out of my comfort zone. I learned how to do things that weren’t always what I felt like doing just because I believed it would make me more accepted. That’s not a bad thing entirely. But what happens when you’ve learned to live your life out of your comfort zone? When people pleasing is the only way you know how to make decisions?
When you condition yourself to live outside of your comfort zone, you can begin to despise being comfortable. So much so, that you no longer have a place you can be comfortable at all. You just live learning how to be this version of your ideal self without really knowing how to be OK with just being your real self. The sitting version of yourself.
I have always loved poetry and building small communities because I need a space where I can feel safe expressing myself and connecting with others. That’s what I know about myself.
Yet, I was also ashamed of being this highly sensitive person because it’s not what you see emphasized in society. Why did I have to be the one going around expressing myself when no one else wanted to do it? Even when it’s something I kept finding myself coming back to, I continued to feel shame around who I was and what I naturally gravitated to because I was so conditioned to wanting to fit in and to be accepted. But when you have gifts, they will continue to return to you. The more you fight it, the more painful it’s going to be to move forward in anything else. At least, that’s how it feels for me.
Your gifts may look like different things. Mine may have been poetry at one time and now it may look like writing inspirational messages on candles and body care products. I am not accepting of whatever it may grow into in the future. Because I have accepted that, that is enough for me. I am enough. What I am called to do in whatever form it looks like… is enough. I can find joy and peace in knowing that.
Take a look at yourself. Are you still moving out of the expectations of others? Are you OK with truly showing up as yourself?
Being Vulnerable and Honest with Yourself Is Ongoing
The vulnerability train never ends. I hate to break it to you. With each new level of growth, you will have to face yourself. You’ll recognize what’s holding you back and you will have to make the decision if you’re going to allow yourself to keep doing that. So here’s my question to you.
What’s holding you back? Have you really sat down and thought about it? Write it out. All of it. Be completely honest.
You can admit the mistakes you’ve made to yourself. You can admit the times when you knew you were self-sabotaging but you gave into it anyway because it felt good. You can admit that you’re still learning to love yourself. I promise you. It will be okay. You can trust yourself. Learning how to at least takes practice.
I know that I have a fear of failure. I know that I have self-sabotaged in so many ways in the past. I have been saved from their negative consequences most times but I’ve developed even more shame after recognizing what I was doing. The process is not easy. It isn’t quick. And it isn’t cheap. It’s going to take your time, your energy, and your self-compassion to get through what’s holding you back from being the person you want to be and living the kind of life you want.
Vulnerability isn’t just bombing your friends and social media with whatever problems you have. That’s a lack of boundaries.
Vulnerability, to me, is being intentional about what you share and how you share it. It’s being empathetic with yourself and others. You don’t need to end whatever you say with some sort of moral. But you understand and are aware of the power of releasing yourself and releasing someone else.
Let go of what you’ve been holding in.
This is why I love poetry. Poetry heals. Poetry releases. I love the times when I’m so afraid of reading something I wrote and people come up to me and tell me how much they can relate to what I wrote and that experience. It gives them comfort knowing they’re not alone. It reminds them that if they’re not alone, then maybe they can keep going if they see someone else is doing it.
There is a real honest power in being vulnerable. Learning how to practice being vulnerable and expressive is going to be the release you need to take that extra step. It’s an exhale so you can breathe.
Self-Acceptance Is A Practice
I got really good at being someone else. I can imagine all of the different versions of myself that I could be and it stresses me out sometimes because I only have one life. I have to choose the kind of life I want. Not just my job. Not just where I live. But truly, I get to choose how I want to think about my life and how I allow that to effect the decisions I make.
I had some really elaborate dreams about the kind of life I was going to be living. The pandemic hit and severely crushed those dreams. I have to admit, I was really humbled in a way that I didn’t even think I needed. But I am grateful for it, because I was forced to return to the home in me. I had to learn to come back to the spaces that make me feel most comfortable because all of the other social life standards and expectations had been cancelled. All I had was to move back into my comfort zone. It was like a dusty old studio apartment with a twin bed that needed a lot of cleaning. *laughs*
I love writing. It’s such a release for me. But I absolutely did not want to become a writer professionally. I was afraid of my gift and it has taken me years to return to accepting it. But now I truly value it. Even on the days when I still question myself, I feel confident that this is a space I am meant to grow in.
You may have gifts that you feel are not strong enough to pursue or fears that tell you that you’re not good enough. But I’m here to tell you, you will always be growing. Give yourself the chance to flourish in the space that’s meant for you.
Deciding to Pursue the Life You Want
We’ve talked about shame and how vulnerability is learning to become aware of where that shame comes from, how it’s impacting you, and telling your story. Self acceptance is taking the step to acknowledge all of this. You’re acknowledging the shame. You’re acknowledging the feeling of being real and honest with yourself. And you’re making the decision to do something about it.
The decision doesn’t have to be a direct action. It can be a change in mindset. That change in mindset will then affect future decisions and thinking patterns about yourself and your life.
Are you ready to really accept all of you? Are you ready to release yourself of the pain, fears, and doubts you have that’s holding you back?
It’s okay if you’re not. That’s part of being honest with yourself. I hope that you’re honest enough to be real about that because then you’re really on your way.