"Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement." This is an amazing quote taken from Brene Brown's book, Daring Greatly. It is my current bedside companion during my yoga teacher training in Costa Rica and I wanted to share my own experience of this word... connection.
When I arrived here in Santa Teresa I felt that I belonged. I felt like I had come home to myself and that my place on this earth was more apparent. I instantly knew that I wanted to teach. However, within a few days I realised that I was once again defaulting to protective mode and as the first week progressed into the second I felt myself retreat.
All around me the group seemed to be connecting and yet I felt further away from them than ever. I managed to convince myself that I was just not good enough, pretty enough, interesting enough, for people to want to talk to me or engage in my own conversation.
I hid myself away and felt like nobody heard me. I wasn't meant to be there. I had tricked myself into thinking that I was going to be a yoga teacher. I wanted to bolt.
And then I called BULLSHIT!
My ego had convinced me that I was being judged; my appearance, my ability to practice yoga, my travel stories, my ability to share deep and meaningful things and be vulnerable. I convinced myself that I wasn't being heard, that I wasn't sharing the 'right' stories, that I wasn't 'liked'. What I was actually doing was judging myself on the stories I had created.
This is a pattern I have implemented for years and years. I felt the same vulnerability come up again, that I had at secondary school when all I really wanted was to feel accepted and liked by people. It is the same story I have told myself over and over again whenever I meet new people or go out of my comfort zone in terms of social situations. I wanted to hide from that vulnerability because to put myself out there and stop defaulting to the things that had protected me from potentially being hurt or rejected by others was fucking scary.
I spent some time processing and came to the terrifying conclusion that in order to get the feeling of true connection I had to break the habits that had kept me 'safe' - or trapped - in the past. I had to be real and raw. This is something I am very good at from the safety net of my computer and writing - yet face to face - that is a much more daunting task.
And so I let my guard down. I let myself be vulnerable and open to the possibility that not everyone would like me. Not everyone would want to hold a conversation with me. Not everyone would want to be close friends. But that actually it is OK if any of these things do happen because I am happy enough with who I am to know that I don't need validation anymore from others to know my self worth.
And guess what happened?
I dove right in. I connected with people and they opened up to me and I felt safe enough to be myself. I felt empowered to just be and let my guard down. I felt part of the group. I felt heard. I felt for that nobody was judging me and that I wasn't judging myself.
Now that we are into the third week, I feel like I am in one of the safest spaces I have ever been in. Yes I miss home, but I also wouldn't miss this for the world.
I feel more in tune with my body than ever, I am so connected to the people around me and also to myself and the natural elements that my heart literally is expanding by the day. I am opening up to the possibility that actually being vulnerable is far more rewarding than hiding away.
Yes I might get rejected and some people might not 'get me' but I am actually learning that my worth is not gauged on what other people think of me. My worth is about what I think of me - and in all honesty - I feel so much compassion towards myself (and others) and pride for what I am doing that the doubts are beginning to become less about control, and more about a necessary process of growth.
By allowing myself the chance to connect with other people, I have allowed myself to connect with me. I can hear myself, I can value myself, I can be seen by myself. I can give and receive to myself without judgement.
I am connected in a way I never thought possible.