GUEST POST BY JULIAN GROELL
Many of us rob ourselves of a life full of purposeful connection by hiding behind our social masks. We use these masks to protect ourselves from dealing with our insecurities, shortcomings and everything else we dislike about ourselves. I used to live behind those masks until I realized it wasn’t the only way.
I lost my identity when I was traveling the world as a model. I guarded myself, trying to protect myself from the shame of this ‘glamorous’ lifestyle. As a result, I wasn’t able to maintain close relationships and pushed away all of my close friends. When people asked how I was doing, I always said I was great. It was a lie. I felt like a fraud.
One of the most fundamental human needs is connection. Humans are wired to connect, and the only way to create real connection is by opening yourself up, being vulnerable and exposing your truth – good or bad.
Owning our truths and taking responsibility for our actions can be a difficult task, but it became clear to me that spending my life running away from that truth was leading to a dead end street full of pain and loneliness. Embracing our vulnerabilities can be a risk, but the higher the risk, the greater the potential reward in finding love and belonging.
Hiding my truth and not owning up to my story had kept me in a downward spiral that impacted my mental and physical health. When I finally summoned the courage to open up, I felt a heavy weight had lifted from my shoulders. To my surprise, revealing myself did not result in being shunned or judged. People could sense my honesty and began trusting me, respecting me and confiding in me. Through this, I discovered the power of human connection. Making myself vulnerable to form true connection made me comfortable embracing who I really am.
People are often not willing to let their guard down unless you let yours down first- out of fear of being judged or not fitting in. When communicating with others, it’s not as much about the questions to ask or responses to give, but taking the lead and communicating openly to create an environment where others feel comfortable sharing. This vulnerable, authentic style of communication will be apparent to those you interact with and will be reflected back to you.
Not long after I had embraced this open communication concept, and taken pride in myself and my story, I found myself in the same Caribbean beach town as someone I had met briefly a few months earlier but never connected with. In search of authentic connection, I decided to make a strong effort to get to know her better.
We immediately recognized we are adventurers on similar life paths focused on personal growth, self discovery, and very interested in human connection. I had arrived completely open and she was the same. The similarities and this immediate connection led us to embark on a two day road trip through the countryside of this beautiful Caribbean country. Being disconnected from internet, social media, and the comforts of the developed world felt effortless. We created a friendship that has the potential to last a lifetime.
The truth is… the memories of the adventure are not nearly as important as the friendship we found in each other. The same adventure with someone I couldn’t relate to could have been an awful experience, but in this case – we could have spent the day sitting in a car in an empty parking lot and still had a perfect day just talking about life, the world, and the importance of human connection. This bond created in a fraction of our lifetimes was stronger than many I have with people I have known all my life. Because I was open.
Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness. But why? Being vulnerable and revealing your character without fear of others’ reaction is a strength. Rather than viewing vulnerability as simply a good or a bad thing, it should be seen as the base of all emotional states and feelings. Building walls around our emotional lives out of fear of being hurt means closing ourselves off from the one thing that can bring real meaning and true purpose to our lives – connection.
About Julian Groell
Julian Groell is a model, personal trainer and nutritionist, and lifelong student of the human psyche. Having traveled the world as a model, he found a passion in meeting, connecting with, and enriching the experience of people from all walks of life. Julian had studied personal transformation, social psychology, and the optimization of the human body and mind and applies the principals he learns to his daily life.