Yesterday my friend Kaija shared a Youtube video on Facebook about her journey living and coping with trichotillomania (you can see her youtube video here). I love a lot of things about Kaija, she’s brave, she’s independent, she’s altruistic, she’s a fellow INFJ, she has this calm and serene aura that immediately stills the chaos within me, but what this video highlighted was her amazing confidence.
Trichotillomania, the obsessive irresistible urge to pull out one’s own hair, would usually be seen as a weakness. I don’t have any experience with trichotillomania personally but I imagine a lot of people living with this urge probably feel weak and out of control and maybe even embarrassed. Like I said, I haven’t lived with trichotillomania but I can relate to feeling out of control, I can relate to anxiety and I know many times out of control anxiety has made me feel alone or helpless, or bad. In her video Kaija admits she used to feel insecure about hair pulling, but over time by engaging in the trichotillomania community Kaija has embraced this aspect of who she is and has become more confident than ever.
Kaija is one of my friends in real life, and it is little stories of confidence like hers that drive and inspire me in every day life. It is Kaija saying “hey, the world says hair pulling is weird and wrong, but it is who I am and it has made me stronger” that encourages me to write here every day. Though I write about shoes and mini-skirts and puppies, at the heart of this blog I’ve always wanted to create a space that encourages others to embrace all pieces of themselves.
I believe so strongly in darkness and the full spectrum of human emotion. It is so natural in our society to feel ashamed when we are sad, anxious, angry or any other emotion other than happy but I don’t believe in apologizing for allowing ourselves to fully experience life and what it means to be human. Though I am inherently optimistic and bubbly I don’t run from darkness or sadness. I believe it is our experiences both positive and negative (light and dark) that form who we are. Can we really be dynamic, complex, intricately interesting humans without both light and dark present?
In my life I have seen so much beauty and for that I am eternally grateful. I’ve kissed a dolphin, I’ve stood within arms reach of Taylor Swift, I’ve watched the sunrise with my true love and fallen asleep laughing next to my best friends. I do not ever want to belittle the beauty and enchantment the world holds, but I don’t believe I could fully understand or appreciate that beauty without experiencing pain. I believe in submerging myself in sadness from time to time. In life there will be painful experiences, there are days that I am so overcome with loneliness I worry that I am plagued to feel perpetually small and isolated. I sometimes feel so weird and unloveable that I question my own value in the world, these feelings are not happy feelings but they hold value nonetheless.
I never want to stop feeling the full spectrum of human emotion though I dread sorrow and sadness just as much as the next person. It is often the dark portions of us that society deems as weak or weird or wrong that make us strong or in Kaija’s case confident. I embrace loneliness and heart break because it is at those times I can write most eloquently, I can create most freely and feel so authentically. Do I look for sadness? Of course not! Yet, I’ve reached a realization that I’ll never escape the darker parts of life and I no longer want to.
Most of us can learn a thing or two from Kaija’s journey with hair pulling. We can learn to look towards our weaknesses for strength, we can learn to open up to others to find sanctuary in a new community, we can learn to love ourselves unconditionally, and we can learn to live transparently. I am obsessed with people who can expose who they are “flaws” and all.
How do you cope with feelings of brokenness? Have you ever been able to turn a weakness into a source of strength? I would love to read your story!