I’m not one of those girls who enjoys talking about my feelings. Actually, I kind of hate it. Even the phrase ‘talk about my feelings’ makes me cringe a little, but I’m finally learning that being able to talk about certain things has really helped me to deal with them and move on.
The fact that I’d never had a boyfriend used to feel so incredibly embarrassing to me. I would avoid speaking up in any conversation involving crushes, boyfriends, etc. I hated this part of me and didn’t want anyone to find out about it.
Another thing I never talked to anyone about was the church I grew up in. When I was younger, my best friend’s parents found out about our church and decided it was best if we didn’t spend so much time together. Since then, I was afraid to talk to anyone about it.
One of the main obstacles keeping me from talking to people about these things was the fear of how people would react.
If I told my friends about the church, I was convinced that they wouldn’t want to be friends with me anymore. If I ever told anyone that I’d never had a boyfriend, I was afraid they would make fun of me and tell everyone they knew and I’d feel even worse about it.
After years and years and years of not talking to anyone about the church, I finally told someone. A new friend mentioned she had relatives who were Jehovah’s Witnesses and I blurted “I have weird religion in my family too!” She was genuinely interested and wanted to find out more, but wasn’t judgemental or critical. When her reaction was nowhere near as bad as I expected, I felt safe enough to tell other people. I gradually became more and more comfortable and now I have no problem talking to people about it.
Only a handful of people in my real life beyond this blog know I’ve never had a boyfriend, but being able to tell those few people has been a milestone in my self-acceptance.
I’ve had the same experience when I’ve shared other things that bothered me. Things I used to be ashamed about, but once I talked about them I found out there were more people like me such as:
- I didn’t have many friends in college and spent a lot of time feeling miserable and lonely.
- In general, I don’t enjoy partying/clubbing and never drank before age 21.
Looking back, it almost seems silly how much these things bothered me, but at the time they were really embarrassing. I guess it’s also part of getting older. When I was 7, I was embarrassed if my sandwiches weren’t sliced diagonally, like my friends’ sandwiches were. Somehow, this isn’t such a big deal anymore!
How do you share whatever it is you’ve been holding back? Here are a couple ideas based on what has helped me:
Get it out, in whatever way is easiest for you
If talking to someone about it seems miles beyond your comfort zone right now, find an outlet that’s easier for you. You could comment anonymously online or send someone an email. Even just writing it down on paper for the first time can be liberating.
Start with a smaller version
If it’s too hard to share the full story just now, try sharing a watered down version of it. When you find that no one reacted in the way you expected them to, it’s easier to share the bigger secret. For example, mentioning to a friend that I’d never really dated much was a lot easier to say out loud and made it easier to eventually share the whole truth.
As the saying goes, a burden shared is a burden halved and I’m finally beginning to see the wisdom in this.