By: Dana Zillgitt, Regular Contributor
I’ve never been one to open up easily, it’s actually terrifying for me. So when my recent article went up, I’m pretty sure I had at least half a dozen panic attacks. When I published the article, I was worried. I was absolutely terrified how the public would react. And I couldn’t stop shaking. But the response was stunning. I have never felt so loved in my entire life. I have never felt so well thought of or even protected as I did in the responses.
There are a few people that deserve more thanks than others for editing the piece. But they know who they are and I love them even more for their help and insight. This whole baring my soul for the world to see, I’ve never really known how to do it without going big. And I guess that’s what these past weeks have been for. What better way to bare your soul than to just lay it out there?
There are a few things in my past that have happened that I’m not proud of and when they come up in conversation, people always ask “how come I never knew before? Why didn’t you tell me before?” My answer is always the same: it never came up. A friend put it perfectly: those black spots on our souls or in our past are never good conversation starters or even quirky enough quips in storytelling. Nobody wants to know about your pain. Nobody wants to hear a sob story They want to see your strength in pain, they want to see you grow like weeds in a sidewalk.
But there’s a certain beauty in letting it loose, in cutting out the negative, and really moving forward through the pain. Winston Churchill said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And there’s always that cliché adage: “Tough times don’t last but tough people do.” It’s funny how my fear of opening up made me want to share even more and to prove that I was growing in a way I never dreamt possible.
Sharing those dark little nuggets of your soul can be terrifying. It’s absolutely scary and weird and emotional. And there will be people who stop talking to you because of it. But there will be so much more love than you can even imagine. And there will be at least a few weights lifted off your shoulders. You feel so much lighter.
I originally thought sharing my story would belittle me in the eyes of others, but it has actually gained me more respect as well as more well-wishes and love. I cannot believe the amount of emotion I have received lately, and I am beyond grateful for it. It’s proving to me that not only do I have the right to say “no,” but I also have the right to say “yes.” I have the right to keep friends and acquaintances that build me up, who will take my strength and match it with their own. As the amazing Adele said, “Sure, I have insecurities, but I don’t hang out with people who point them out to me.”
It takes a lot of guts and grit to show up and really let yourself be seen. But you CAN do it! Surround yourself with a great support system, go easy on yourself, start small, and take a chance letting people see the REAL you. You'll be glad you did!
Dana has her BA in International Affairs & Spanish as well as a mild obsession with rescue animals and all things caffeinated. She’s mastered the art of the selfie, fort building, and even the sass battle. Plus, she can quote 95% of Anchorman and Zoolander.