Stitched on My Sleeves

I spent the better part of my teens convinced that being someone who wears their heart on their sleeve would be so embarrassing. I thought that there was no way I would ever be like that - it's too dangerous, too much vulnerability, too sensitive, too mushy, not for me.

Well somewhere down the line, that became me.

Here's the thing, if you have spent anything upwards of an hour with me you have probably seen me get so passionate about something. Good or bad. Nachos or annoying drivers. That's my style, if I feel like my heart is bursting open with excitement or joy or frustration, you'll know.

Which, in part, is why I maintain that Walt Disney World's Celebrate the Magic & Wishes is literally what it feels like in my soul. There are Disney songs, and fireworks, and everything just feels like this:

I feel it all, all the time. My heart is slapped permanently on my sleeve, and you will absolutely know when I'm excited about things. I don't really know when I made the switch - from feeling like keeping my heart guarded to openly loving what I love. I don't know that when is what matters though. Really, I think it is more about how and why.

How to live with your heart on your sleeve, with a big ol' passion to celebrate everything, and embracing all the parts of your life for what they bring you? That's not always easy. Mostly because it freaks people out. Exactly like it used to freak me out. People don't love the idea of expressing everything that they think and feel. They think there is some danger in that, and that caution is going to keep them safe.

Sure, there is some truth to that. Yes, caution might be the difference between vulnerability benefiting me or backfiring as fiercely as it has a hundred times before. I think of it this way, no one is going to question how I feel, and what I want, and who I am at my core. Because I'm honest about all of that, from the get-go.

...And that is where the freaking-out comes in. There is a pretty clear narrative right now that being vulnerable is bad, and that wearing your heart on your sleeve is not just stupid, it's dangerous.

Because people will take advantage of you.

Because no one will want to be in a relationship with you.

Because being open and honest means that people will think you're clingy and crazy.

Because shitty people will flock to your good-heartedness.

Because you'll be hurt, and scarred, and traumatized by everything and everyone.

Look, that is stupid. There will be people that take advantage of you, and treat you poorly, and think less of you, and label you, and hurt you - but chances are that'll happen whether or not you've got your heart on your sleeve, because that's just who they are.

There is no evidence that being clear in your intentions, and being open, and being honest, is going to automatically lead to a hundred different ways to get hurt. There is plenty of evidence that says if you guard your heart, if you hold back from taking the big leap, if you keep your wants and goals to yourself - you'll be chronically unsatisfied.

How is that worth the trade-off?

Of course I've been hurt. I've been burned. I've opened my heart up to people that walk away from me. I've worked up some big hopes for things that fell through.

But God, when you get to feel all of that excitement, and all of that love, and all of that passion - how can you turn that all down because you might get hurt again? How can you mute all of that because it might make other people feel weird?

That is stupid.

If you're not there yet, you won't be there tomorrow. But I gotta tell you, you should try it. Even if it's just about being unabashedly excited about mac and cheese. Even if you just get all swoony over The Bachelor. Even if it seems little and silly. Even if it means people think you're wearing your heart on your sleeve.

Because so what if you are? You know what that means? It means you've got a heart to wear.

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