Normally we don’t build walls to break them down so let’s just put the bricks away.

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.

30 thoughts on “Normally we don’t build walls to break them down so let’s just put the bricks away.

  1. Hannah, thanks so much for this post, I really needed it. I totally agree with, “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,” you couldn’t have said that any better. I think it’s so easy to build these walls, but it’s so terribly difficult to figure out HOW to tear them down, what strategy is right for us. I am so glad that your writing helps you to do this; hopefully we can all be lucky enough to figure out exactly how we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable. I’m sure your words will continue to help many to do that.

    1. Brianna, thanks for the kind words and the comment. I know exactly what you mean though, trying to figure out how to tear down walls. I trust that you will find a strategy though, you are a strong individual and I think that just by opening up to others is the best first step. And you have certainly shared a lot of your heart with me and I am so grateful for that.


      Hannah Katy

  2. Hannah,
    I can always count on you to help cheer me up. Like I have said several other times, this post couldn’t have been created at any more perfect of a time – and I really do mean it this time. I have had quite the rough weekend, and find myself retreating into exile to stay busy with my work and studies and not think about anything else, so as not to become emotional during this stressful time. However, your post has helped me to realize that backing away from everything is not the cure that we yearn for, but instead, we must allow ourselves to express our emotions and seek the comfort in others’ words, or just the notion of letting ourselves get everything out that we need to. Thank you Hannah, and good luck with the rest of your semester, I can’t wait to see you soon!

    1. Hi Jill:

      I hope finals are not too too stressful for you, I am in the same boat. But I too have been guilty of trying to bombard myself with work and projects, so as not to face what is really getting to me these days… I never even contemplated that these defense mechanisms would be my way of hiding behind walls.. But yes, I think you are right, we cannot hide and expect for our troubles and worries to go away. We must face them and with doing so we debunk them and make them less scary. Hold your head up lady, we will be catching up soon! Coffee date?


      Hannah Katy

  3. This post is right on. I do think walls serve a temporary purpose as we’re healing from a very painful situation. However, we get so comfortable with these walls that the thought of tearing them down is terrifying. The walls become our normal.

    I wasn’t able to start bringing down my walls until I met and lost someone great as a result of the walls. It’s a slow process, but putting the bricks away one at a time is progress nonetheless!

    1. You are so right Jan, our walls do become our normal. And I can only imagine how that must have felt to have lost someone because of the walls. A slow process yes, but worth it.


      Hannah Katy

  4. I have noticed that the more vulnerable I allow myself to be, the more support I get from the people around me. Writing/blogging has definitely helped me break down my walls. It allows me to express my hurts and joys without feeling too self conscious. I love connecting with people and that is almost impossible to do when I am pretending like I have it all together or never get hurt. This is a great post and I agree with it whole heartedly.

    1. I feel the same way Holly, I don’t think people are likely to find me believable and genuine if I am always blabbing on about how good my life is. Yes, my life is a blessing, but do I have it all together and all good all the time? Absolutely not. Being vulnerable has been difficult for me with the blogging but more and more worth it with each passing post. I am sure you have found this too, the more you put yourself out there the more likely you are to be received with open arms. People like honesty and realness, it is easier to identify with.


      Hannah Katy

  5. Wow. This is a revelation to me. So the fact that I am so vulnerable and real on my blog, am I breaking down my own walls? I don’t hide my past. It’s messy and filled with so many screw-ups. But I have learned from it.

    When I was younger, I thought a guy would save me. He would break down my walls and “save” me. I don’t believe that now. A guy isn’t going to save me. I don’t want a guy to save me. I don’t want to have a hero complex.

    This post resonated with me immensely. Thank you.

    1. I thought the same thing Steph, as if I could not save myself. I was building walls but had no idea why, perhaps I just wanted someone to break them down. But I am glad that I decided to do this on my own.

      And yes, I do think you are breaking down walls through your writing. You are so personal and real, and you allow yourself to be vulnerable. A very tough thing to do.


      Hannah Katy

  6. I’ve come to realize that walls are a lot like weight: building them up is a lot easier than taking them down. I surrounded myself in walls, not because it was glamorous (although, you are so right about how they are depicted!) but because I was terrified of being too vulnerable. I was terrified of being taken out.

    Getting those walls down has been taking me years longer than I ever thought it would.

    Beautiful post!

    1. Thank you, glad you liked.. I guess no one ever guaranteed an easy and short process.. Wouldn’t it be grand if it were? And I like the comparison you make to weight, very true love.


      Hannah Katy

  7. “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.”

    A lesson we should all try and learn 🙂 I agree with Holly – I’ve found that the more open I am and vulnerable, the more encouragement and support I get to grow and move forward. Wonderful post 🙂

  8. I relate to this post so much. Growing up, I thought the best thing to do (after all I had experienced personally) was to build a wall and not let others in. I didn’t want to appear vulnerable because that meant I was weak, and I hate feeling or seeming weak.

    So I built the wall and each year it seemed to get stronger and stronger…and I was waiting for someone…to see if they could tear it down.

    Truth is, it’s not about having someone else tear it down, it’s about tearing it down yourself – exposing yourself and becoming vulnerable – and allowing your true self to shine.


    1. You speak the truth Kate… We treat it like a contest, who can break down this stacked up wall? I think you are so right, it lies within us to break down the bricks.

      I have talked to a lot of people lately about vulnerability what it really means and how it comes with such a stigma for women, as if we should not be too vulnerable because it makes us look weak. But I think its beautiful to put our hearts out there, sparingly of course.. No one wants to get hurt by being to flimsy with their hearts.


      Hannah Katy

  9. This post is beautiful. I don’t even know what to say. It’s hard, because as I am reading I know exactly what my walls are. What’s weird is that when I am not thinking about it, I don’t feel like I have any walls. But when I am forced to stop and think, and reflect, I know that I do. I also know that they are only hurting me and those around me. It’s so hard to tear them down because they are so comfortable. They’re a shelter in a way, you know? They make me feel safe. Without them I WOULD feel vulnerable, and even more scared. Just. But wow, they need to come down, I know that. I think in the long run I would feel so much better and more free, because even though I think they are protecting me, they are really my prison. ❤

    1. I think being able to acknowledge the walls is a huge act of bravery to begin with. It is not easy to be vulnerable, not easy for the fact that someone could very well take advantage of us.. I just think we are better off when we free ourselves from the prison… Yes, its less security but perhaps more security in ourselves?


      Hannah Katy

  10. I know exactly what you mean! I felt the same way growing up..that I needed a wall to separate me from people. But knowing that I really just wanted them to be broken down. I find walls so pointless. We have to be real with people.

  11. I don’t think walls are necessarily a *bad* thing. I mean, everyone should know how to protect him/herself.

    That being said, I find it takes much more energy to be on guard all the time than it does to just relax, open my arms, and see who stumbles into them.

    Nice post. 🙂

  12. Most definitely one of my favorites Hannah! And totally relateable — story of my life but instead of brother, exboyfriend. Thanks for the inspiration to not give the story any power 🙂

    jessica xo

  13. wow i couldn’t have explained this feeling more better myself. Everything you said is sooo true. But i let a certain someone break down my wall everytime he decides to come back into my life. That is a wall that i need to keep up. Like you said,” We love deeply and often, as a result we hurt greatly.” and thats what happens to me everytime i let this someone pop back into my life. But for some reason…i don’t mind it…but its not something i want to keep on doing for the rest of my life… there is more to this story than what i’m telling. No it was never a “bad” relationship with this person..just 2 best friends that felt more for eachother but never really got their chance to try. and now its almost to late for that…. this is one wall that i feel i should keep up but it always comes crashing down whenever he re-appears.
    ~The Need To Express~

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