I get asked a ton why I share so openly on social media. Why be so vulnerable and share your deepest darkest fears and insecurities?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It wasn’t always this easy. And sometimes it still isn’t.
I remember when I first started opening up about what I was learning in my meditations and where I was in my spiritual journey.
“This is safe,” I thought. “I sound competent and put together and I’m sharing insights with others, this is good!”
But on the bad days, I couldn’t post on social media. So I just pretended those days didn’t exist and I only posted on the good days.
But here’s the problem: I started having a ton of bad days. A shit ton. So I started dropping hints, little white flags of surrender. Posting quotes that resonated with me, signaling secret messages to the outside world: I am not okay. But they had no captions, no follow up. I couldn’t bring myself to speak my pain aloud. I was ashamed of it and felt like I would be taking up too much space. The idea of this shame on top of the pain made me even more uncomfortable. So I kept everything to myself.
Until one day I had enough.
I had a completely unexpected, horrendously embarrassing breakdown.
In a yoga class.
That I was teaching.
I started off by dedicating the class to a young man who committed suicide at my university, as well as to my dad who had passed away a couple months earlier. Their church service was on campus at the same time I was teaching, but I couldn’t go, because I had my class and my students.
But before I could announce this, before I could finish explaining that I was dedicating this class to these two men, I burst into tears in front of everyone.
I could barely lift my eyes to meet anyone else’s, but when I accidentally did look up, I saw the looks on my students’ faces and my insides twisted with embarrassment.
“Oh my God,” their faces said. “What are we supposed to do?”
What do you do when your yoga teacher has a nervous breakdown?
No one prepared them for this.
Hell, I was unprepared for this.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do.
Do I tell them class is canceled?
Do I run to the bathroom and hide to recollect myself?
Do I laugh it off?
I wanted to laugh it off. I wanted so badly to be able to laugh it off. I’ve always wanted to be the girl to easily laugh things off.
But I couldn’t.
The sadness had been sitting right underneath the surface for months and the words “dad” and “suicide” had signaled the tears to flow.
I wanted to ask them for help.
“Just tell me what to do,” I silently screamed.
“Tell me how to disappear. Tell me that you still think I’m a good teacher even though I’m sitting here on my knees, covering my face. Tell me how to stop myself from feeling so much all at once, all the time.”
But that’s a lot of ask from your students.
That’s a lot to ask from anyone.
I told everyone to come to a child’s pose, so they couldn’t see me. I choked back tears and with a shaky voice, taught the class, shortened the savasana, immediately gathered up my things, rode home on my bike as fast as I could, and screamed at the wind, sobbing uncontrollably.
“This is it,” I thought. I want to tell someone that I’m not okay and I need someone to know right now.
Someone needs to know I’m in pain. Because maybe if someone else knows why I reacted the way I did, then maybe they can reassure me I’m not crazy for being so sad about things that one should be reasonably sad about, like unexpected suicide and the death of your estranged father.
So I posted a blank, black background on Instagram and shared exactly what had just happened.
I sat in a mix of insecurity, vulnerability, and sadness, unsure of whether or not I should’ve shared something like that. Especially something that embarrassing.
I called my golf coach who has always been, quite honestly, the dad my dad never was. I forgot about the Instagram post and told him everything.
I cried, he listened, and I felt better.
He reminded me this was a moment of heartbreak, I’m only human, and I will grow nevertheless from the experience.
We hung up and I compulsively checked Instagram.
To my surprise, there were countless comments and words of encouragement from friends, acquaintances, and strangers from around the world. The world. They wrote things like,
“You’re not alone.”
“You inspire me to be more of myself every single day.”
“The truth you are sharing is so powerful. And it will set you free.”
And in that moment, I realized, staring at this little screen, that I didn’t have to be brave anymore.
I didn’t need to hide my pain and my fears and my insecurities and everything I was silently struggling with.
Far from it, actually, I just needed to be more honest: with myself and with others.
Brené Brown reminds us that vulnerability is the birthplace of connection.
I don’t have to do this thing called life alone. It’s too hard and lonely to do it alone. You don’t have to either.
We can do it together. Mess up together. Fall down together. Get back up together.
So it was that moment that gave me the spark of courage to start sharing more openly. Little by little. And then I started @iandioutfitters and in weeks I was leading a global movement to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. All from behind the screen on my iPhone.
I share because this is not just my story. It’s every girl’s story who struggles with self esteem or body image issues. It’s every woman’s story who accepted less than what she really deserved from a man because she didn’t feel like she was worth it. It’s the story of everyone who gets anxious over little things that others don’t think about. It’s the story of everyone who forgets that sometimes getting out of bed or taking another breath when you feel like your body can’t take the pain anymore is one of the bravest things you can ever do. It’s the story of everyone who felt like their pain was taking up too much space. It’s the story for those of us who are learning that it’s okay to take up space; in fact, the world needs us to keep showing up.
This is why I share. Because I heal in the process of bringing my truth to light, no matter how painful or messy, and I know others heal too.
I use these wounds as stepping stones to inspire healing, forgiveness, and compassion in myself. And I share all of that because I’m excited about it. I’m proud of my path. And I want to connect with you on yours.
Thank you to all of you who have been here with me since day one. There aren’t words to express my deep gratitude. In return, I offer you theses stories, this blog, and my heart, every damn day.
Because why the hell not?