Bald Vs Balding: The Power of Choice in Vulnerability
For a while, I have had plans of writing a blog post about balding at a young age and what that process was like. This blog post is still associated with going bald but has graduated into something deeper and more relevant to the rest of the population that isn’t follicle-ly challenged. That graduated topic is about being vulnerable. This is something I am not very good at. So, as you might imagine, writing a whole blog post about my vulnerability, would in fact, leave me feeling vulnerable. But there is strength and power in choice.
Before we get started on this journey into my brain let’s make sure we are all on the same page and differentiate the difference between “bald” and “balding.”
Balding is something that happens to you. Genetics dictates that you just weren’t built to have a nice thick head of hair. There are different stages of balding but it’s usually obvious to everyone that it’s happening. (Cul-de-sac, thinning, comb-over, excessive hat wearing etc)
Bald is something you are. It is definitive and it is a choice. You choose to take action and shave the remaining scraggles of hair and you become bald. There are no varying stages of being bald.
When you close your eyes and picture a bald guy: Vin diesel, Jason Statham, Micheal Jordan, or Moby might pop into your head. When you picture a balding guy: Tom Cruise in tropic thunder. Or Jim Lahey, or maybe even the most talked about guy on earth these days, President Trump pops into my mind
There is strength, confidence and power in the proactivity of shaving your head and being bald.
This same theory applies to vulnerability.
It has taken time, but over the years I have noticed that my energy is magnetic to experiences where I can help and make a difference in people’s lives. I’ve noticed it from small interactions with customers and strangers when I am able to give them a hand with something as simple as jump starting their car or running after them because they forgot their cell phone at a bus stop. It also is apparent for bigger activities like volunteering as a ski instructor for disabled skiers and now coaching. To be a great coach, I need to lead by example and walk the walk. In this case, its becoming more comfortable with vulnerability. I want to change people’s lives for the better. I want to give people the skills and confidence to change their own lives and in turn help the lives of others. My gift is that I can help people unlock more within themselves. This is my game and I love it. Everyone is so different, unique and amazing. I want the best for everyone in my life and I want to help lift them up. Within this coaching process, people give me the extreme honour of opening up their life to me. They are courageous and brave in their vulnerability when they share their hidden dreams, fears, aspirations, hurt, grief, obstacles, etc. Its takes a ridiculous amount of courage to open up about these emotional topics. For me to help people be vulnerable, I need to be vulnerable. And its fucking hard. This entire post is the result of a challenge to myself to be more vulnerable. Gotta walk the walk right?
I am currently launching a Furnace and Duct Cleaning franchise. We are start up mode so I get to do fun stuff like flyering. Flyering is literally just dropping flyers off at people’s houses to increase the visibility of the business and hopefully line up a couple jobs. As you can imagine, flyering is pretty mindless. So I end up doing aloooot of thinking. This ranges from random thoughts such as “I wonder how much that house costs?” to, “I wonder if there’s a pool in the backyard”. Most commonly though, are thoughts along the lines of “what should I have for lunch?” The following is a pretty accurate description of my thought process from the other day which triggered me to write this post:
Fyfe’s thoughts while walking/jogging through a neighbourhood dropping flyers on doorsteps:
“Today is a pretty good day! Stoked it’s not raining. Oooooh that’s a cool car. Brother Jamie would like that! I should totally send him a photo of it. Hmmmm but that means I have to pull my phone out of my pocket. That’s a lot of work. Annnnd I have all the flyers in my hand. Annnnnnd too late. Too far away now for a good photo. Flyering is soooooo boring. Okay, pay attention Fyfe. Don’t want to trip on that step and eat shit again. Annnnd we are still flyering. Okay Fyfe lets be proactive. Let think about coaching. Niccccce. Coaching. Coaching is so much fun. Okay. Now how do I make money doing it.. hmmmm. Too difficult. What about… why do I love coaching. Yeah that’s a good one. Why is it I am so passionate about it. I love helping people. I love feeling like someone is better off after a session. Now I’m feeling kind of emotional and feel like I want to cry. What’s the fuck is this about. Now I’m frustrated because I’m emotional and I don’t really know why. I shouldn’t need to cry. This is weeeird. But the feeling is still there. Maybe I do need to cry. Haven’t had a good cry in a while, but still….. I’m not sad. Stress levels are pretty good. It’s a nice day and I’m bumpin’ tunes. Lets go back to the trigger. Which was, why am I emotional about why do I want to coach. Its because I like helping people” AHA….found it.
I realized that it’s a good thing that I was emotional – it meant that I was on the right track. Like a heat seeking missile, I was targeting things that have meaning to me. I got emotional because something was kind of stuck.
The following is a pretty good analogy of what I mean by being “stuck”
It’s kind of like a hidden sliver. You hardly notice it. It’s probably nothing. But every once in a while, you do a certain movement, and there it is again. Dangit! Maybe you do have a sliver. So you go get the tweezers and jam around in your toe causing a little pain and discomfort but come up empty handed. Another day or two goes by and it doesn’t bother you. But once again, you step juussst like that, and there it is again. Hardly noticeable. Sneaky bastard. This time you pull out your magnifying glass, get your antiseptic ready and really sharp tweezers and go to town! And It sucks because you miss it like 6 times and you know it’s still there. Now you are bleeding and swearing. But then, you get it. It’s a slippery tiny little bastard. And you have to be veeeery gentle otherwise it breaks and part of it stays in there.
That’s kind of what finding this missing piece was for me. There was some kind of breath of fresh air that came from this realization.
That realization was this need to help people and I think it comes from some deep place of wanting to be strong for others. For some reason, while the whole thought process above was happening, an image Quinn Keast’s memorial ceremony popped into my head. My mind kept drifting back to it. Quinn was a year older than me and I didn’t know him well. He passed away tragically on graduation night. He was extremely well liked and had an incredible future in front of him. The entire school was at the ceremony and in shock. Everyone was devastated, upset and sad. (Why does it take a serious loss for people to step back and realize how amazing and precious life is?**) But it was during this ceremony that something made me stand up/puff up. I wanted to help all these people in pain. I wanted to protect them, save them. Whatever the feeling was, I just wanted to help them feel better and end the suffering. I think I have always been this way. I hate seeing people hurt or uncomfortable. But, I will be the first to admit that I am not the best about actually doing something about it. I don’t always know what I should say. My mind goes to “what would I want to hear in that situation?” I’m a pretty internal guy for some things so much of the time I would prefer to just be around people and not talk. But I have realized that many others are not like that. I am trying to be better about listening to that gut instinct. That very first feeling when something happens but I don’t act on it because I need to observe a bit more, get more info, make sure you are making the right action for the situation. And then I get paralyzed and don’t do it because the moment has passed. Anyways…this is the kind of stuff I’m working to change and be better about.
In the past, I generally wouldn’t let others see my vulnerability. I don’t think I saw it as a weakness, but it was more about the fact that can manage my stress and emotions internally pretty well and that I felt that I didn’t want to burden people with something else. I could manage it. Other people might not be able to manage it so I can help them. They might need me to be strong for them. (again, this is my thought process. Not reality) In retrospect, me controlling my emotions and internalizing things probably makes it harder for people to open up. Tit for tat. When someone is vulnerable. It makes it easier to be vulnerable. It’s an act of trust. Which is THE most important thing in the world to me. You can have everything you want in this world but if you can’t trust people and people can’t trust you, you have nothing. I actually admire and respect people who are vulnerable and wear their heart on their sleeve. So it’s a weird dynamic that I am trying to figure out. The one thing that I have realized very clearly though, is that emotionality is a strength because it reveals truth. And truth is power. (The truth I am referring to isn’t a proven or scientific truth, it is a personal truth. It is whatever some one believes, feels or thinks. In my opinion this carries the same weight and significance because people act upon whatever they feel to be true.)
This whole process has been difficult. I’ve never been the best with sharing feelings and emotions so just getting it down this on paper has been a massive obstacle.
I’ve come to realize that emotions are just energy and it comes and goes. It comes in waves. We should avoid labeling it good or bad because it’s not either. It is simply natural energy and sometimes it cannot be explained. It doesn’t always make sense and can’t always be put into words. It just is. My natural instinct is to control my emotions. Be stable and calm and unflappable. I think that is my natural energy, but there is more power to be accesses in being open and exploring it. The story I have told myself is that I need to be the master of emotions so I can control them and be stable in order to be strong for others. I think this is definitely a piece of the stereotypical ideal of masculinity and manliness making an appearance. This need to be strong and impenetrable. However, I’ve realized that its actually harder and takes more courage to explore the emotional world. Our stories and history are hard truths. But they aren’t necessarily “real” truths that others can see. They are truths in our minds, which is where we limit ourselves.
Going into what I felt I couldn’t really describe why I felt emotional. But I just was. It was frustrating because I couldn’t really pin it down. Normally I find it easy to get distracted by other things in life but in this instance decided to focus on the emotion and ended up having a bit of a “break-through.” This wasn’t some life changing, “oh my life is so much better, oh yaaay, Fyfe, thank goodness”. It was simply unlocking just another little piece of the puzzle of my mind. Tapping into body knowledge is extremely powerful and useful tool. Focusing on where do you feel emotions not why you feel them. Try to get out of your head. We overthink things too much.
Looping this back to the whole "bald" theme….
I was fortunate enough to grow up with a dad who lost his hair at 18. He was bald when I was growing up and I came to terms pretty quickly that I would go bald too. It’s still not an easy thing to deal with. I decided that I wouldn’t let genetics dictate anything and that by being proactive and buzzing my hair I could have control over the situation instead of letting genetics control me.
This power of choice became very apparent this week with the story about being vulnerable. I actually ended up pulling over and crying for a bit. There was no big or important reason for being that emotional. There was nothing major in my life I was upset about but for whatever reason I was emotional. Which to me meant that it was something important. As I explored this topic more I realized that, just like choosing to be bald, choosing to be vulnerable was another avenue for enacting choice in my life. Being vulnerable tends to be associated with weakness because it can open you up for criticism and hurt.
There is strength in vulnerability because there is strength in choice. You can choose to disclose your feelings. No one can take that from you. Take ownership in that decision and be confident in it. I choose to be bald, and people could poke fun at it, but it was my choice. I own that decision and I am confident in it. No one can take that from me. I chose to share my vulnerability in this blog post (which for the record was a HUGE challenge for me) and because I own that decision and it gives me the strength and courage to share it.
I wanted to share this because I feel that all of us deal with this issue of disclosure and vulnerability. And I hope that in some small way it was of value and service to you.
If this post has struck a chord in any way please let me know. I would love to hear from you. (the message does not have to be some elaborate story. Just reach out)
I will leave you with one challenge. Reach out to one person who you care about and respect. Maybe someone who inspires you. But choose someone who probably doesn’t know how much they mean to you. Reach out to them and tell them how much they mean to you, and say thank you!