The past couple of weeks I have had several acquaintances become friends, and also made many new friends as well. And I am reminded again and again how important it is to exercise my mad oversharing skills. Just last night, I went to dinner with a couple whom I've never met, and a girl that I'd only gone to dinner with for the first time the week before. We were talking about writing and aspirations, and I told them about how I'm working on a book about living in Africa as a young teenager.
The lovely woman across from me asked how I had ended up there. I told them about my childhood- growing up with a beautiful, amazing mother who was a drug addict and later an alocholic, and a father who was well... whatever the hell he was. (I can never figure out how to describe him without using lots and lots of profanity so instead I just don't at all.) I saw the looks of surprise on their faces as I'm sure they were expecting me to say "oh, student exchange program" and not "I was a foster kid that finally found a home with people who loved me, and also happened to be Christian misisonaries." I quickly followed this heavy, more than slightly dark moment with a joke and dinner continued, later with laughter so profound that tears were shed.
I have thought a lot today about dinner, and my very deliberate decision throughout my life to master the art of oversharing. This is probably the 10th time in the last several weeks that I've shared parts of my life like this and walked away with a deeper, more fulfilling and meaningful human experience than I otherwise might have had. And I can say with complete certainty not once have I walked away from these interactions and thought, "Wow. I really wish I had been less authentic and real. That I had disseminated less of my whole self."
I came across the divine TedTalk by Brene Brown entitled The Power of Vulnerability today and knew instantly this post was simply going to be the vehicle with which I should share it. Nearly every word she said felt like an "a-ha moment," but one single line described perfectly my motivation for baring my soul whenever I am gifted with the opportunity: "In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen." For me, this means not just the parts that went to Stanford, or has two darling children, or makes people laugh but all of me, including the parts that were displaced as a result of addiction, goes to the ER with her kid, eats chocolate cake on the side of the road in her car, and struggles continuously with the day to dayness of being alone. Because being vulnerable in this life is not merely a good idea, it's a necessity.