Let’s backtrack to 5 years ago. Food was a major struggle for me. I was constantly on a diet, so unhappy in my body, and couldn’t stop “falling off the wagon” and turning to ice cream and pasta when I meant to be eating quinoa and kale.
While all of this was happening, I also:
- felt that I needed to appear to have it all together
- hid most of what I was struggling with from my friends and family (and not a soul knew about my food issues)
- was scared of being vulnerable and seeming weak
- carried around a ton of shame about my body and eating habits
Because of all this, whenever I was having a bad day, I tried to hide it and figure it out on my own. I would read a self help book (or a diet book), give myself some alone time, get my mindset straight and swear/hope that tomorrow would be better.
I believed that I had to show up with others having it all sorted out, and whenever I didn’t have it figured out, or I was struggling, I needed to hide and sort through that stuff solo.
Deep down, I believed that having it all together = being loved.
Nobody wants to hear about my issues all the time.
Nobody wants to hear me complain and vent.
Nobody wants to see that messy, sad, lonely, scared, crazy part of me.
Now, let’s come back to the present day. Things are dramatically different now. I no longer use food for support, love, and to catch me on my bad days. I use people. Relationships. My village.
Guys, you know that expression “it takes a village” that we’ve heard time and time again?
I want you to really take that in. Because it is SO true. Life requires us to have a village. We are NOT meant to go through everything alone.
It takes a freaking village.
To be a woman, or a man. To be in your 20s or your 50s. To be going through a good patch or a rough patch.
No matter what, you deserve – you NEED – a village.
And for those of you struggling with food, I want you to ask yourself: do you have a village? How much are you really using them? How much are you leaning on them and letting them catch you? How much are you totally unraveling and letting them see you break down and come undone?
Starting to rely on the people around me was extremely scary. At times I felt like people were confused, like they weren’t actually sure who I was. At times I felt like I was a burden. And many, many times I felt like they wouldn’t “think highly” of me anymore as they saw everything behind the scenes.
But here’s what I’ve realized in this experiment with being vulnerable and letting my village in:
- We’re all kinda crazy and we all have our shit. So when we see the crazy, the scared, the irrational sides of someone else, we identify with that because we know we have it in us, too. My friends and family didn’t think I was some freak of nature, because they’ve all been there too in some way. In fact, becoming vulnerable makes you way easier to connect with.
- People love being there for you. We all want to feel needed, and letting someone else help you through a bad time or a rough day gives them the opportunity to feel needed. You’re giving THEM a beautiful experience of being able to love you and support you.
- We all crave deep connections with people. When you open up and start to shed your layers, you’ll be amazed at what happens. Your relationships will get so much deeper, you’ll attract the exact people you want into your life, and every moment will start to feel more fulfilling and real.
- Your real friends will never get sick of listening to you and will never make you feel bad about reaching out.
- Your village does NOT need to be all women. Men are amazing. You need men, too. They offer a unique perspective and energy that can pull you out of whatever you’re going through. They can be some of the best support.
I could talk about this topic forever because I feel so strongly about it. It takes a village, and for us to think anything otherwise is doing ourselves and the people around us a disservice.
So this begs the question, what if I don’t have a village? How do I create more of one?
Here are some thoughts on that:
- You do have a village already. Maybe it’s small, but you do. Look at the people who have been supporting you. Maybe it’s just your mom and one friend, but that’s still something. Start opening up to them more and practicing your vulnerability skills on them. Beef up these relationships.
- People are everywhere. As you start to shed your layers and become more honest about what’s happening in your life, you’ll attract exactly who you need. When a coworker asks you how you’re doing, share a tiny bit more realness than you normally would. See how they react. If you have a blog, start talking more from your heart (this is how I started my whole business). If you have a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with but haven’t in a long time, now’s the time to reach out.
- It takes some effort to build up your village. You have to be proactive, you have to initiate coffee dates, phone calls and get togethers. But I know what you’ll find is that the more “real” and open you make each connection, the faster the relationship with grow.
Now, I’m going to end this very long post with a suggestion for you to try this two day vulnerability experiment:
First, take a minute to just get real with yourself. Sit quietly and think about these few questions:
1. What’s really going on for me?
2. How am I feeling in life right now?
3. What’s going well? What could I use support with?
Now that you have that down, here’s your challenge. For the next 48 hours:
- Anytime someone asks you how you are, share a little bit more than you normally would, whether it’s good stuff or something you’re struggling with. Speak from your heart and as you’re saying things, ask yourself “is what I’m saying really true?”. Make sure you’re speaking your truth.
- Anytime you feel an unpleasant feeling (boredom, fear, loneliness), reach out to someone. And I mean anytime!! This is where you remember that it takes a village, and we’re not meant to deal with everything on our own. All you have to do is say “hey…. ugh I’m feeling X” and they’ll likely say “how come?” and then you can talk about it. So simple, so freeing.
In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this idea that it takes a village. Are you nervous about leaning on people in this way? Can you share any ways that being more vulnerable has helped you? Any tips for other women to create their village?
Thanks for jammin’ with me on this one!
Jamie this is so perfect. I’m just learning recently that being vulnerable with people is one of the most refreshing, comforting and loving things you can do. You don’t feel as if you’re living a lie because you’re telling how you actually feel and not stuffing it down. My problem is being that way with everyone! I only fully open up with two people now… trying to spread that circle a little farther all the time. Thank you so much for this! It really does take a village when you’re going through icky stuff. And really, even when you’re not, it’s nice to have shoulders to lean on and ears to listen. 🙂