Many moons ago my first career and schooling were male dominated and competitive. Most of my friends were men partly because that is what I was mostly surrounded by, but also because the women in my field were ferocious.
I’ve always been a sensitive person, so the aggressiveness was hard. When I married David, I realized that my male friendships weren’t necessarily appropriate, but girlfriends were few and far between. Because of this I would walk around with my guard up and not let people get too close to me. I was very private and didn’t share much about myself. This, along with making my family my world, isolated me.
Fast forward to starting my first job in direct sales. To be successful I HAD to make friends with women. What I found was the more I surrounded myself with women the better and more liberated I felt. I was becoming vulnerable; my guard was almost gone.
In the back of my head I knew the more I surrounded myself with women the bigger the chance for drama. I admit that I’m not always the best judge of character. I tend to be naive and trust people too easily once they break through the barrier and get into my life.
This has led me to much disappointment, and should I say heartbreak, in the last year. A couple of women that I put my trust in eventually showed their true colors. I felt taken advantage of and realized that I cared way more about these women than they ever cared about me. One of the women was a mentor of mine. When things would happen that was negative or out of my control, she would say to me, "#NEXT". My brain kept telling me #NEXT about the situation, but my heart was not as easily convinced.
Am I going to give up on growing and gaining new friendships by not being vulnerable? No way! But My Guard has gone up quite a bit. I will be way more cautious about openly trusting just anyone.
Typically, I network or meet women one-on-one at least twice a week. Over the holidays I found myself “hibernating”. I went at least 6 weeks with seeing only a few people. Partially it was because I wanted to be with my family and partially it was to recover emotionally. Let me tell you, when I did step back out, I was invigorated again.
The women I surround myself with are my friends, teachers, cheerleaders and mentors. I’ve experienced many years without this in my life and I’m not willing to give it up, even if that means occasional disappointment or heartbreak.
"When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity" -Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Do you walk around with your guard up or do you wear your heart on your sleeve?