About a year ago I committed to writing a book and I signed up for an online course that would guide me through the process. One of the biggest treasures I found inside that course was a connection to a singer/songwriter in Nashville with a mission similar to mine. Brittany Barbera ended up releasing her book Let Me Be Weak: What People In Pain Wish They Could Tell You last December and I loved it. I’ve never had a guest post on this site before, but trust me, this is worth it. I wanted to share her words with you because I believe you will find them to be both challenging and relatable.
You can find her book here: Let Me Be Weak
She also wrote & recorded a gorgeous song with the same title: Let Me Be Weak
In a world where we are obsessed with sharing everything online, from pictures of our food and the sunset, to the latest quiz results, identifying which ‘Friend’ we are (I’m Monica), it’s a wonder we have such a hard time genuinely sharing things of substance. Given the amount of time we spend communicating each day, you’d think we’d be experts by now. We’ve mastered the fine art of scrolling through our news-feeds and clicking “like,” but so many of us are secretly lonely and feel completely disconnected from any authentic sense of community.
Regardless of how well put together we may look on the outside, the unavoidable truth is this: everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes. Though we are often seduced by the glamour of invincibility, life happens to us all—people or dreams die and relationships end. Jobs we depend on for financial stability dissolve in the wake of economic uncertainty. Accidents and illness prey upon the loveliest of people, and catch us off guard. All manner of unexpected traumas threaten to interrupt our plans, turn our world upside down, and expose the cracks in our armor.
However, we live in a culture where we are encouraged to be self-sufficient, where the powerful are celebrated and even idolized. We are socialized to present the best versions of ourselves to one another and to pretend like we don’t struggle with anything at all. But, I don’t know anyone who is self-sufficient 100% of the time. I’m tired of perpetuating this myth and I’m really tired of seeing wonderful, hard-working people suffer the shame of inferiority, simply because they need emotional support in a time of crisis.
Our deep seated ideology of independence spills over into the way we care for people in pain. We struggle to allow room for grief and are tempted to resist the necessary work of healing because it is a messy and uncomfortable process. Since we are relational beings, we need to feel loved or it will take a toll on our mental health. I’ve heard it said that we can only be loved to the extent that we are known. But even though we crave relational closeness, that level of vulnerability feels dangerous because we also fear rejection. The truth is that we all have wins and losses; both the highs and the lows are integral parts of the journey. And when we only share our successes, we tell an incomplete and unhelpful story.
If we want to have a healthy internal dialogue and deeper relational satisfaction, we have to be willing to be honest. We can’t ask people to go where we are unwilling to go ourselves. However, if we are willing to drop the act and allow others to see our imperfections, we create an environment where the people we love are willing to do the same. Our widely accepted cultural expectations will rule us if we let them. They’ll insist we put on our masks and convince us that pretending will get us what we want, but internally we will suffer feelings of disconnection and unworthiness, because we didn’t allow anyone to genuinely get to know us.
Asking for help is not a moral failure. It’s a sign of health and courage. If you’re hurting today, be brave enough to admit you have limitations and need support. Share the unedited version of your life with someone you trust and be willing to receive help when they are kind enough to lend you a hand. As you learn to be compassionate towards yourself, you’ll soon discover that you’ve liberated others to do the same, and built a community of friends who love and embrace imperfect people.
Brittany Barbera is a singer/songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee, and the author of the #1 bestselling book, Let Me Be Weak: What People in Pain Wish They Could Tell You. Listen to Let Me Be Weak, the song which inspired the book, and sign up to receive a free mp3 here.