Every piece of jewelry we design is a custom creation that has meaning or inspiration behind it.  The inspiration behind the Open Heart Collection has to do with being open to love in all aspects of life through vulnerability.  This is something that hits close to home for me so I decided that I could benefit from a little reminder, and that’s where this collection was born.

I grew up being pretty shy, and it took me years to build the confidence to put myself out there and try and relate to and connect with people.  I definitely became more comfortable in talking to them, but there was one piece of feedback I kept getting over and over from different relationships.  Be more open. 

I thought about those words a lot, yet I couldn’t quite grasp what they meant.  I was sharing stories about myself and my experiences with people.  I opened up about personal things to some that I definitely didn’t share with just anyone, and still the same feedback kept coming back to me.  Be more open.  People I felt close to that I thought I had opened up to were telling me that I was closed off and I could not understand why after I had told them so many personal stories and experiences.  How could they possibly perceive me as closed off?  Didn’t those stories make me vulnerable? 

I had to backtrack.  What does being vulnerable mean?  When I turned to Google, I learned that being vulnerable means you’re exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.  It’s something many people avoid because of the fear of being judged or hurt.  So if that’s the case, then how can being vulnerable be a good thing?

It took years for me to begin to figure out that being vulnerable and letting people in wasn’t about the stories, no matter how personal they were.   It was much more about feelings.  Here’s the tricky part though.  When I looked back at conversations I had with these people, I had shared my feelings about things.  So what was I missing?  I was actually starting to feel really dumb about the fact that I seemed to be the only person I knew that couldn’t understand this concept. 

Then one day, I had an experience where I was with a few friends, and the conversation turned to talking about the things we were dealing with that were our biggest struggles of the moment.  As people were sharing, I was thinking about my biggest struggle at that time and what I would say about it.  I trusted the women I was with and was happy to share, but I was thinking about how to frame it in a way so I wouldn’t cry.  That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks!  My vulnerability at that moment had more to do with the fear of crying in front of my friends and much less to do with the topic I was ready to share. 

I had been “trying to be open” with people by sharing personal experiences and framing them in a way that was filtered.  I could tell them I was worried or scared or frustrated about things that had been emotionally dealt with already or would share only parts of the details, convincing myself that I was being open because I had talked about feelings.  But being vulnerable isn’t about sharing all the hard things in life.  When it comes down to it, those are just events. 

Being vulnerable is about raw honesty in the moment.  It is about sharing my thoughts when I am scared that I will sound stupid.  It is about being honest when asked to do something that causes me anxiety and sharing that embarrassing detail.  It is about being brave enough to say that I miss someone when I do, or reaching out to a friend when I feel alone or sad and actually telling them that’s the reason for my call or text.

I still struggle with vulnerability and sharing myself with others.  I got married this past year and wrote the entire ceremony, including the story of how my husband and I met, but when I sent it over to the officiator, he replied back to me and said, “This is a great story that includes Jonathan in your love story, but what about you?”  After I received his reply and re-read the story (a few times), I could not figure out what he meant.  I reached out to my closest friends for feedback and they (of course) could see it right away.  They knew my story, my fear of commitment, all of it; and I had left that part out because I didn’t want to look weak and share too much information with the guests at the wedding I didn’t know well.  I edited the story to include my point of view and feelings as a part of it even though it made me slightly uncomfortable.

As part of starting Beautiful Adventures with my husband, I am going to be writing blogs, designing pieces, sharing adventures, and pulling my personality into everything we do.  We wanted to start a company that is story based and personal and I love the ideas we have, but I’m really nervous about sharing who I am and putting myself out there and having all of my flaws displayed.  That’s on top of learning everything it takes to start a business and trying to do it all, not knowing if we will succeed or not or if we are doing any of it right and I’m a perfectionist.  It’s really scary, but I believe that being vulnerable is important to being authentic and relatable and sharing our stories and adventures as part of this journey and I’m striving to get better at it.

That is what the Open Heart Collection is about for me.  It’s a reminder to stay open, to be vulnerable, to be authentic, and most of all to let in all the wonderful possibilities, relationships and experiences in life that will come from having an open heart.