The leading cause of loneliness is hiding. Of course I have no science to back up this statement but – to steal a line from a movie – you don’t have to bite into a doughnut to know it’s sweet…

And according to no science whatsoever, there are two types of hiding.

You get the hide-and-show. You hide who you really are and show the world someone else in place of your real self. We know this story, boy meets girl. Boy (or girl…but the story runs better in my head if I just pick one gender. You will understand my dedication to civility in just a moment…) pretends to be someone else in order to keep girl. They marry and for years boy lives a lonely existence while pretending to be the person who caught his wife.

Then you get the blanket hider. These people don’t even bother pretending to be someone else because they took themselves from the race, got into their cars and drove home where they refuse to open the door for visitors.

I’m a blanket hider. And I’m a blanket hider for all the reasons one becomes a blanket hider: I was hurt and I didn’t recover well.

As I sit here with my chococino and over-developed sense of introspection, I grieve the loss of my younger self…my wild self. Ida Cox sang about girls like me…

Wonderful blues singer, Ida Cox

Wild women don’t worry,
Wild women don’t have the blues.

I used to be wild and brave. I used to argue points passionately and lose my temper. I used to dream big career dreams and take risks. I used to date and flirt and laugh raucously with little regard to how I was perceived. I wallowed in the tragic cul de sac of unrequited love and never hesitated to lose my heart.

Now I hide. I hide from love, from risk, and – worst of all – from any situation that might evoke strong emotion. I use reason and decorum as indicators to how I’m supposed to behave, and then I convince myself that it’s also how I should feel.

There’s nothing wrong with reason and decorum; I’ve adopted these qualities exactly because I admire them so much in others. But I’ve used it as excuse to eliminate any opportunity for hurt, humiliation, criticism or rejection.

The brilliant Brené Brown (Daring Greatly) encourages people to connect with others by showing up and allowing your true self to be seen.

I have only ever allowed two people to see me fully. Both those people have died and their deaths feel more like abandonment then death. They have left me alone on this earth…

But it would be cowardly to blame them for my decisions. Millions of people get hurt every day without descending into emotional isolation.

No, what I need to do is let myself be seen and, more importantly, accept the world’s response to me. Some of the world might love me. Some of the world might want to dip me in lava.

But I tell you this: after years of riding mediocrity like it’s the last bus of the night, I am just about ready to be criticized for being unique.

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