I grew up believing that building walls up all around one’s self was glamorous.
I saw the scenes played out on the television, the same plot lines emerging from my novels, the similar dialogue taking place over and over again. There was always some defining moment where the girl would admit to the guy that she had walls built up inside of her, walls that never felt like crumbling.
Love sick rhetoric: “I never believed these walls would come tumbling down, and then I met you.” Beyonce said it too, “Remember those walls I built? Baby they’re tumbling down.” It’s everywhere in song lyrics and poetry, and there seems to be something very heroic about another person taking the time to help tear down the barrier.
I think I must have told a half-dozen guys about my indestructible walls. Not that I actually had them but because it sounded so good coming out of Joey Potter’s mouth, why not mine? And it made me seem mysterious, or experienced and fragile. And for some odd reason, fragile, to me, was glamorous.
We put ourselves in positions that could potentially hurt us. We learn from a young age that we must be capable of taking a risk or a leap of faith if we want to arrive anywhere in this lifetime. We love deeply and often, as a result we hurt greatly. And with each scar or marking left from another one’s entrance and exit from our heart, we add another brick to the wall inside of us. Higher and Higher. Stacking and Stacking.
What fears me in this process is when we begin to lean on this wall; take comfort in this wall. We stay so closed off that we hinder ourselves more than we help ourselves.
For the longest time I did not want to talk about the shattered relationship between my brother and I. I was hurt by his actions, marred by his words and I was hiding behind an ugly story. But as I hid behind the tale that is “Timmy and I,” using it as a wall to separate myself from other people, I learned I was giving that story way more power than it deserved.
When we walk around deliberately hiding parts of ourselves in fear that people will think less of us or that no one will understand, we hinder ourselves from being completely immersed in the human experience. I am not saying we should rattle off our secrets and insecurities to every person in the supermarket line, but I think that by sharing parts of ourselves (not just the parts that someone could easily find on the surface) we give less power to our walls and more liberation to our own souls.
My adviser the other day pulled me into his office and he told me exactly why he liked my writing. It was not my use of alliteration or sentence structure. Rather he said, “You put yourself out there… You make yourself vulnerable in your writing and people can relate to that.” And he is right, I have been forced I have forced myself to be more vulnerable but I could not be happier for doing so. You see, even when I wanted to sound very much like a great heroine from literature classics by saying that I had walls too high for anyone to take down, I have learned from this very venue that I really was hiding behind things. Stories. Experiences. Fears. But I sit down at this desk everyday, in front a new blank document, and I tear and shred the walls to pieces. And when all that is left is a pile of dust, I pick up a few sprinkles of the remnants, place them in my pocket, and walk towards the next wall. My stories are powerful, yes, but I give myself greater strength when I tell them. My walls were once high, yes, but I give myself more height by refusing to let them stand against me.
When we exchange stories, when we hand other people the hammer and let them go at our walls, we free ourselves. We stare straight at the things in our lives that we once called “ugly,” “unfavorable,” and “shameful” and we strip them of their negative adjectives. We could keep our walls up forever if we like but I think eventually we should see what the world is like without the concrete castles.
Share a story. Show your soul. Shatter a wall today.