Friday, March 30, 2012

the flinch.

happy friday. get excited loves. because i've got something special for you.

remember my boy nate?

his last post on my blog pretty much dominated modern writing and human emotion as we know it (you can read it here if you missed out)

well, he's back. and prepare yourself. because what you're about to read is complete badass.

so enjoy.

and thanks nate.

Change is the only constant of life, and there are only two ways to deal with it...

Embrace it, or fight it.

In the last month, I’ve quit my job, started working on my own start-up, bought plane tickets to travel across the country (twice), given away half my wardrobe, and sold more than half of my possessions. I’ve rekindled old friendships, and ended others. I’ve experienced the death of someone I love, and learned the importance of loving myself more fully.

Change is going to happen whether you want it to or not. It’s your decision whether you ball your hands into fists, and try to push back against the hurricane winds of change or willingly let down your defences, open your arms, and use those winds of change to fly.

The way we react to change has a direct correlation with the amount of happiness we experience in life.

The hardest part about change - especially embracing change - is that it requires us to be vulnerable.

We are all born with a built-in mechanism called The Flinch. It’s a natural instinct to protect our most vulnerable parts (our face, our hearts, and our baby-makers) from something potentially harmful.

If you’ve ever had someone unexpectedly throw something at you, you’ve experienced the awkward, spastic, flailing motion that is The Flinch. It doesn’t matter if it’s a knife, or a marshmallow flying at your head. The flinch just happens.

As we go throughout life, we develop an emotional flinch. We put up walls to protect us from things that have the potential to cause us pain. We hide the parts of ourself that we don’t think people will like. We break up with a significant other to avoid being broken up with... or worse, being rejected and unloved as a result of the skeletons in our closets.

We run away from new opportunities because we are scared to learn, grow, and push ourselves. We fear moving to a new place because it requires us to start over, and the comfortable job/city/school we’re in now is just so... well, comfortable.

We avoid risk, fear, and pain. As a result, we rarely experience the feelings of success, joy, and ecstasy.

To get the things we want most in life, we have to stare the things we hate the most in the face, and learn to be comfortable with them. Avoiding the hard stuff simply numbs our ability to experience the good stuff.

Vulnerability is scary.

Ok, I take it back. It’s terrifying.

Being vulnerable requires us accept our true selves... even the parts we might hate. It takes serious backbone not only to love ourselves with all of our flaws and scars and secrets, but to willingly share them with others despite the chance of rejection.

Vulnerability is not weakness. Vulnerability is courage.

That said, I have a confession to make. Despite being a pro at forcing myself to dive head-first into change, I suck at being vulnerable.

I put on a mask. I wear a thick protective armor. I hide behind a facade.

I have recently learned that one of my greatest strengths (an ability to get people to open up to, and trust me) stems from my greatest weakness (my fear of vulnerability). I’ve become such a pro at building up emotional walls that I can bring someone else’s fortress crashing down around them in no time at all. I am the one who created the blueprints, after all.

My fear of vulnerability has me running scared. For years, my enemy has been the feeling of “comfortable,” because when you become comfortable, it means that you are letting down your guard. When defences are lowered, people start to catch glimpses of who you truly are. They see past the mask. Your imperfections and flaws start to become exposed.

Being exposed... *shudder*

I am terrified that I will never be loved for who I really am. Instead, I will only be loved as the person that others think I am.

So, rather than open up, I run.

This fear stems from the fact that I have never really allowed someone to decide whether or not to accept or reject me on their own. I make the judgement on their behalf.

My new goal (and I invite you to join me)? Relinquish the title of Judge. Let’s be honest. It was really never mine to claim.

I have spent too much of my life quietly judging others for their mistakes, struggles, and decisions. I’ve spent even more time and energy judging myself.

It’s time for the judging to stop.

Judgement is the enemy of vulnerability.

Instead, replace judgement with empathy, encouragement, and love. These qualities are the only gateway that allow ourselves and others to embrace change, and live happy and full lives.

Or, as a man much smarter than myself put it:

"If we take man as he is, we make him worse, but if we take man as he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be." -Viktor Frankl


  1. Great job Nate. Really well said.

  2. Bags, I have known you a long time... I have watched from right next to you, to the interwebz, and everything in between as you (in your own words) have been "running scared." I have often thought to myself (the irony my this judgement is not lost on me either), "how strange that you would run off..." I love this post. I see you making a change that is conscious and deliberate. I wish you luck, and let me know how I can encourage and support you in "becoming what [you] can be."

    1. Jeff, thanks for being a rad friend. I appreciate your love and encouragement. Really.

  3. Great post Nate, thanks for sharing! Life really is about being true to yourself. “Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

  4. Lets be honest nate..
    Your a dream.
    Yet again winner post!

    1. Thanks Nichel. It's good to know I'm someone's dream. ;) You're pretty swell yourself.

  5. Nate Bagley is an amazing writer. The End. Ahem. Infinity. The End Again.


from keen.