Often times, I am approached by people who say that they wish they had the courage to share about their struggles and life. They wish they weren’t so private. They worry about sharing something about themselves that could come back to hurting themselves, their children, their spouse…They just don’t feel comfortable putting themselves out there.
If you ask anyone who knew me 5 years ago, and even those that truly know me now, they know I am not someone who typically bares all to people. I am sometimes uncomfortable talking about myself, and will somehow divert the conversation to a different topic when people ask an important question, or something that may make me feel uncomfortable.
It all comes down to me being a private person, by nature.
What would you say you are? More of a private person, or more of a public one?
How would you describe yourself?
If you are a public person by nature, it really doesn’t bother you if people know what is going on in your life–in fact, you may enjoy it. These types of people often times are extroverts and feel like sharing about their lives makes them feel closer to others and gives them an adrenaline-type feeling inside. They don’t understand why others would keep things so private, and many times and love hearing others’ stories too. They love telling other people about their lives, their family’s life, their children, etc… They are typically very fun-loving and lovable.
If you are a private person by nature, you keep lots to yourself. Sometimes, you have to make yourself say something to someone You aren’t really sure why it is so hard to open up to people, but you have to be super close to someone for them to know the deep parts of your heart. Often times, you just chalk it up to being more introverted and private. When someone shares something about you that you hadn’t even intended sharing publicly, you panic, and you aren’t sure exactly why. You typically keep conversations focused on the other person and are very aware of time spent talking about you versus other person.
Well, let me tell you, I totally fall in the private person section, but I am also outgoing— I always say I am an outgoing introvert:)! And my husband totally falls into the public person (total extravert) section.
When Josh and I were getting married, we talked about who to invite to our wedding. I envisioned something small with close family and friends, but if you know Josh and the church he grew up in, paired with the fact I had only been out of high school a year, we all agreed we wanted to invite the people we loved, which was ALOT. And if you know my mom, she knows a ton of people, and she was all about a big wedding too! She definitely falls into the public person category.
*Side note– My wedding was perfect! I hold no grudge that it was a big wedding.* It was wonderful and what it should have been for that time in our lives. And I know myself better now than I did when I was 19.
Josh and I then talked about a way to honor my dad at my wedding, since he had passed away. I envisioned having something on the back of the program about him. I remember Josh saying that we should do something more, if I was okay with it. We ended up sharing a video of my dad before I walked down the aisle. It was super emotional. Josh was set on doing this for me, but it made me so uncomfortable. I mean—it was heavy—it was sharing a part of my life that was so raw—and with a huge group of people. I felt uncomfortable, but we decided to go through with it. It was a wonderful way to honor his life. We had so many comments from the people the video touched and it made them feel like they got a picture of my dad, even though many of them had never met him. It wasn’t until I heard how that video had touched them, that I felt like it was the right decision to share it. I just wasn’t completely comfortable doing it.
Lots of more things have happened when I have been face-to-face with my private nature in big circumstances, but probably the biggest thing was when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was diagnosed on a Monday, and I was devastated. It was hard for me to call anyone. Actually, I will have to really think about it, but I don’t think I did call anyone. I couldn’t imagine making that call.. I think I texted a few people to have them praying, but Josh made all of the calls.
I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I knew people would eventually know I had cancer, but I guess it was like as long as I didn’t say it out loud, it wasn’t really happening—a form of denial, which is often necessarily when in a crisis.
I kind of just floated on a cloud for a few days hoping this was a terrible dream, not really talking to many people about much of substance. I didn’t know how to talk about cancer, and to talk about my feeling surrounding it—that wasn’t something I did. I know this may seem ironic in that I was getting my PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy and I dealt with talking to people all day long about hard topics, but me sharing about my stuff with others— that was reserved for the far and few.
A few days after I was diagnosed, Josh woke me up with a laptop on the bed. He had the biggest smile on his face. He said, “I have to show you what I did. I started a blog to keep people updated on your cancer diagnosis. I wrote about it, and you already have 50 comments of all the people praying for you!”
Y’all, I was sick. I tried to not make him feel terrible for setting up the blog, but I was sick! I wasn’t quite ready yet to share this news with the world, and to know people were sharing things, commenting—with my name on it—it made my private self want to hide under the bed!!!!
Thank goodness God gave me grace to not be ugly to Josh in that moment. I think he could since my discomfort, but I just told him that he could update it, but I didn’t want to have a part of it. It was like it was out of sight out of mind–if he wanted to do that- great. Because it was from him, and not from me!
Well, can you just laugh now?!?!
5 years later, I am the main one who writes on here, and I have shared so many intimate parts of our life on here! I have written books about my life!
WHO AM I?!?!?!
Well, let me tell you who I am.
I am the same Aly.
I am a private person by nature.
I am introverted.
But here is what my cancer journey and making my private life public has taught me.
Being private was selfish.
Before you click to exit this post because you think that’s crazy, hear me out.
I understand keeping things private for the safety of the ones you love–there is wisdom in that.
I understand keeping things private that you think might harm someone you love.
I am not talking about that—airing your dirty laundry or oversharing!
What I am talking about is sharing our burdens and our lives with each other.
My friendships and relationships are so much deeper now.
As I allow people in, they allow me in, and my friendships are deeper.
As I share my struggles, others know they aren’t alone, and realize people’s lives aren’t always what they seem.
As I share funny stories, it may brighten someone’s day and realize they need to take life more lightly.
As I share devastating moments, I can be a conduit of people getting on their knees before our Father in prayer.
As I share my burdens, I am obeying Jesus!
We are to share and bear each other’s burdens!
I realized that before cancer, I rarely allowed people to share my burdens. But I would always write that off on me being “private”.
It was actually a control issue for me and not allowing people in.
Well, slowly, I started writing on the blog.
I started opening up, with butterflies in my stomach.
People would say, “So do you just love writing?” “Isn’t it therapeutic?”
It is uncomfortable every.single.time.
Every time I post, share a picture, speak on a stage, write a book—it pushes me outside of my comfort zone.
Although some of my reasons for wanting to be private are rooted in wisdom, the majority of them were rooted in selfishness.
Sharing and making my life public has been me letting go of my “safety.”
I have realized that what I have gone through was not just for me to go through it and suffer, and then have blessings.
It was for other people too. And if I don’t share that— I am not fully using what God has done.
So, I encourage you today, if you are already public by nature—what are your intentions for sharing? Whose burdens are you sharing? Many times “public” people can give people many of their burdens but not share with others.
See where you find yourself.
If you are private by nature, what is something you can start sharing? How can you start sharing it?
We weren’t meant to do life by ourself or in our head! Actually keeping it all in our head can be a scary place. If you are anything like me, I can overthink and drive myself nuts. I encourage you to share, share, share!
God has completely rocked my world once I realized I was being private for not many other reasons than me staying comfortable.
I am learning that this life with Jesus—experiencing the abundant life—is all about the uncomfortable.
So, just know, I choose to share much of my life with you all because I feel it is something God is calling me to, not necessarily because I want to.
Hope this brings some encouragement to you today!
Who can you share your burdens with today?
And even moreso, whose can you carry?
They may not feel comfortable sharing their burdens with you if you don’t do the same.
Step out of the boat.
Embrace the discomfort,