In the weeks since publishing a portion of my retreat journal, a number of people have told me how brave I was to share my thoughts so freely. I suppose it was really brave (or maybe, a bit foolish) to publicly expose my emotions that way. But it’s something I wouldn’t take back even if I could.
Allowing myself to show my vulnerability was somehow very freeing. The mere fact that I’ve been trying to date opens me up for rejection (and boy, has it ever.) Working in a creative field is quite possibly the non-parent’s closest equivalent to someone saying you have an ugly baby – and then explaining how your darling could have come out prettier. And as if that wasn’t enough, I also play basketball with a stampeding herd of 30- and 40-year-old guys who don’t really want me there. Or at a minimum, always hope I don’t end up on their team.
Although my exact circumstances are unique, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels susceptible on occasion. Just Google “most common dreams,” and you’ll usually find this one near the top of the list: I am naked or inappropriately dressed in public. And what do the interpreters have to say about that? It’s simple: “You feel exposed, vulnerable or awkward.”
For me, this isn’t about misery loving company; it’s about carving out a space for the other emotional nudists roaming the city. Like a 60-year-old European unapologetically shedding his Speedo at the public beach, there’s a certain amount of exhibitionism needed to live this lifestyle. At the very least, we’re the people wearing our emotions on our sleeves, despite trying hard not to.
Usually, we’re the ones down in the trenches with our loved ones, yet feeling like nobody really goes there with us (even though they do and we just can’t see it sometimes). We’re often among the chosen when it comes to befriending the elderly, the lonely, the troubled, the sick and maybe even the dying. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We’re also very likely to rescue animals and own pets. We love music, poetry and romance and then, of course, we love telling everyone about it.
Like so many things, emotional nudism is a matter of both nature and nurture. It’s how we were born mixed in with a little bit of how we were raised, plus everything we’ve experienced since then. It may be different, but it’s not wrong; we’re not going to hell for it. We could still join the military if we wanted to and no, it’s not contagious.
Do you know an emotional nudist? Or maybe you are one. If so, feel free to comment — I know you’re not too shy.