A little less than a year after my dad passed away, I started seeing a therapist and I was extremely hesitant for a two reasons:
1. I didn’t want to “give in” or appear weak by needing a therapist.
2. I didn’t want to become vulnerable by exposing my emotions.
Additionally, my idea of a therapy session was tainted by stereotypes from the media. I imagined my miserable self sitting in a room while the therapist poked and prodded my mind for useless information. I imagined being able to easily express my contempt by maintaining a cold face. I even imagined myself stumping the therapist and forcing her to write a huge question mark in her notebook.
Spoiler alert: none of those things happened.
I’m a pretty awkward person, or at least I like to think I am, which therefore makes me more awkward. I was not looking forward to awkwardly talking about my life with another seemingly awkward person. But, I guess that’s why therapists are taught to do what they do (or maybe I was blessed to have a particularly good one) because I had no problems spilling my heart out to her within a few minutes of my first session. Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why this might have happened, but these are the two that stand out:
1. I am already prone to wearing my heart on my sleeve, I just need someone to ask me the right questions.
2. I was an emotional wreck and about ready to burst at any moment.
I continued to see my therapist every 2 weeks or so for almost 6 months and I can’t thank her enough (I went to visit her a while back and she had moved on to a new location, so I never got to officially thank her). She helped me unearth emotions I didn’t realize I was experiencing and she helped me articulate the ones that I was drowning in. She reminded me that it is acceptable to cry and even more acceptable to cry a lot. She showed me that being strong doesn’t necessarily mean being invincible. And most importantly, she taught me that opening up to the people who I trust does not always have to be something that I struggle with because once I learn to let my guard down, it will make a world of a difference.
In one of our last sessions, she asked me:
“Do you ever write any of this down? It seems like you have your own little story.”
She caught me off guard because I had never thought about it like that. I didn’t look at my life as something worth writing about, rather I was merely living it. For the first time, I was exploring my life objectively and putting myself back together piece by piece. I realized that each piece came loaded with memories of people and places and feelings and conversations and sounds and sights and smells.
With this, I came to understand the beauty and importance of every individual’s story.
Not everyone is granted the luxury of writing an autobiography or having a biography published about themselves, but that’s okay. Each and every strand of our ordinary experience is woven into the much more meaningful quilt of life. We are merely products of experience and the experiences of others and for that reason, I truly believe that we should share the knowledge gained from our daily escapades. I am consistently blown away at how often I read articles online that completely resonate with my soul in its current state or from a time in the past. These moments are so refreshing because they remind me that I don’t have to feel lost in this world. I am not the first, nor will I be the last to be, to feel, or to experience life.
I encourage you to reach out to those close to you and simply ask them questions about their lives. What was their first pet? Have they ever been camping? As a child, what did they want to be when they grew up? Has that changed? What’s their favorite food? Point is, we spend quite a lot of time with people, whether it’s face to face or via the Internet, but we really don’t know anything about each other. We shouldn’t have to find ourselves in a desperate situation in order to reach out to another person, it should be the norm. We are all humans on this little planet we call Earth, I think it’s about time that we begin getting to know each other.
Everyone’s story is worth listening to. When are you going to start telling yours?
About The Author
Jordan Leigh Bryant graduated from Pomona College in 2013 and is currently living in Asunción, Paraguay. Soon, she will return to the United States to attend graduate school at Syracuse University. Jordan enjoys yoga, cooking and roundabout conversations about nothing. She wears her heart on her sleeve and thinks that people should share their feelings more often. You can follow her journey on her blog or on twitter @fashobombiee.