I'll just be up-front about it: I know no greater fear than vulnerability. There's something about putting yourself out there that's inherently somewhat unnerving and, at least to me, scary. I don't think I'm alone in this.
As a writer, I put myself out there quite a bit, and this blog has helped make the prospect of writing for an audience less intimidating. Still, I hide behind the relative anonymity of the internet: that is, I don't know exactly who constitutes my audience, and I find that comforting.
In life more generally, we all have to expose ourselves sometimes (though hopefully not literally!). Perhaps the hardest of these challenges lies in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with one another. This is perhaps my greatest fear.
When we invest time and energy in others, sometimes we profit in the form of new friends and better relationships of all kinds. Other times, we get burned. If being burned once is painful, I'll attest to enduring countless-upon-countless pains in my 26 years. I hypothesize that it never gets easier but hope to never test the theory. Still, I know it'll happen.
So why risk it?
The payoff. The potential benefit weighs all the potential pain every single time. Like an inmate holding out hope for release, as much as the hope and potential disappointment both hurt, they might always be in conflict because the potential payoff is worth the painful price.
Leaving myself vulnerable in writing and relationships and career and...daily life (more on those last two later) will always be scary as hell but also always worth the risk. The potential for payoff is there: I feel it.
I'm still working on it all. Work with me.