I’m probably not qualified to talk about success. I’m 17 years old. I’m not going to tell you how to build the business of your dreams, or how to walk on water to impress the girl you’ve been fantasizing about. Simply put, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with giving you advice in those areas.
What I can tell you from experience, however, is how to be yourself. The real you. Not the bullshit mask you wear to prevent people from calling you out.
I’m not saying you have to be as weird as I am. Quite frankly, I don’t want you to be as weird as I am. I’m a 17 year old juggler that maintains a self-improvement blog in his spare time, and goes to school looking like this.
If I’m going to be honest I’m not universally liked. I don’t appeal to the masses. You can’t appeal to mainstream society when you fully express yourself. Uniqueness is polarizing. For every person that likes you there’s someone that doesn’t. But when you give others the real deal the people that like you REALLY like you.
Of course, that’s not to say I’m perfect. Occasionally there’s social shituations where I tense up and put on a mask as well. Aside from psychos I think everyone experiences social anxiety and has trouble expressing themselves from time to time.
With that being said I’d like to offer you the process I used to become more consistently authentic.
(Step 1) Understand Fear Desensitization
If someone is afraid of snakes there’s two ways to help them overcome their fear. First you can gradually expose them to their fear. Perhaps one day you make them stand in the same room as a snake, the next day you make them touch the snake, and the third day you make them hold the snake.
Gradual desensitization is effective because no step is significantly further than the last. This causes progress to come slowly, but because it’s not too difficult many people are able to adhere to a process of gradual desensitization.
On the other hand we have what I call dramatic desensitization. This is where you take your friend that’s afraid of snakes and tell them to jump into a pit of (safe) snakes. This is significantly more difficult than gradual desensitization, but if done will allow your friend to overcome their fear of snakes much more quickly.
Neither method is better or worse. It’s simply about how far your friend is willing to stretch his comfort zone. It would be spectacular if he was willing to jump straight into the heart of his fears, but if he’s not up for that much discomfort gradually facing his fears will work fine too. The most important thing is that he’s facing his fears and moving past them rather than trying to avoid them. The same applies for you.
(Step 2) Allow Yourself To Become Vulnerable
The reason we discussed your friend with a fear of snakes is because if you struggle with social authenticity you have a fear as well. It’s called fear of vulnerability. It’s nothing to be ashamed about. I have it as well.
Everyone is afraid to take off their mask and let their guard down because it opens you up to getting hurt. Unfortunately, without risk of negative emotions we can’t experience positive ones either. You can’t experience love without risk of heartbreak, and you can’t experience social freedom and spontaneity without risk of rejection.
Everyone fears allowing themselves to be vulnerable because we’ve all been hurt in the past. One way you can deal with this is making the choice to not allow others to get close to you anymore. That’s what I did for several years. Unfortunately, the only thing that resulted from this was emotional numbness.
We’re all different. Some people may be so traumatized that feeling nothing is the only thing they can handle. No judgement from me. I found the truth for me, however, was that as scary as it seemed I wanted to experience both sides of life.
The ups and the downs, the high and the slows, the laughs and the tears. If you’re content with feeling nothing at all there’s no need for you to read any further. You’re already content. You don’t need advice. However, if you decide the rewards of the roller coaster are worth the risks you’re going to have to do the same thing I did. Face your fear of vulnerability.
Unfortunately, your fears are like an obese person in a narrow hallway. There’s no way around them. The only way to get past them is to lower your shoulder and bowl them over. You’ve got to tackle your fears.
The method you use to do so is entirely up to you. You can gradually face your fear of vulnerability or you can come at it kicking and screaming. Either way is fine.
You can take a small step in the direction of vulnerability by raising your hand in class to ask the dumb question you’re afraid other people will make fun of you for, or you can take a giant leap by asking out the girl you’ve spent the last year crushing on.
The most important thing, however, is that you’re constantly attacking your fears rather than trying to run from them. Although allowing yourself to open up can be frightening, you’ll often find that the more negative emotions you’re willing to experience the more positive ones you’ll enjoy as well.
Hope you enjoyed today’s post! I felt this one was as good as anything else I’ve produced in a long time. Glad to get it out here for you to enjoy as well. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you again Monday! 🙂
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