When you are open, people may hurt you or knock you down. It makes you stronger, and doesn't mean you have to close.
Of course I'm speaking very broadly. You do need to be smart and protect yourself. For example, identity theft is a serious growing crime.
If you are open you need to be prepared to talk and communicate. To understand, and to listen. Being open can be scary at first, but it keeps you engaged. It also keeps others engaged with you. Other people provide feedback and criticize. Engaging with feedback and criticism is essential for development and progress. Most people are more likely to take bad advice from a good friend than good advice from a perceived opponent. However, if you want to be the other type of person, one who can discern good information, you need a good theory for creating knowledge, and to prioritize error detection and error correction. If one believes in truth, one needs to constantly self-reflect. It is important to be a skeptic of the world and of oneself.
Some polymath intellectual in school (or in the media) may try to teach you that there is no meaning, and there is no truth, and that the postmodern era is the end of human intellectual development. I would implore listeners to strive to weigh good information and bad information.
If one doesn't believe in truth, then one does not believe in meaning. Meaning, which refers to the explanations we provide for things, strives to provide objective truth. "Meaning" literally (as in linguistically, related to language, and specificity of the word "meaning") is a human construct. That does not mean there is no meaning and that does not mean objective truth can not exist. I believe we exist, because I believe that I exist. I would adventure to say I know I exist. Since I know I exist, then I know meaning exists because "meaning" refers to explanations for things. I can give and receive explanations, so I know they exist. There is meaning, and there is truth. Lastly, just because we may not be able to pinpoint objective truth (limited as humans and by language), doesn't mean it doesn't exist, we can infinitely approach objective truth (with progress).
In my opinion, true intellectuals should realize telling people there is no God, that science has nothing to say about human values, that there is no truth, and that there is no meaning, is an insane mental program that will make any man or woman feel lost (even hopeless and nihilistic). I believe that perspective is a black hole to darkness, and provides limited fulfilling progress.
An intellectual who doesn't believe in meaning or truth, I believe is nihilistic, which I believe is corrosive to mental machinery. For example, I haven't finished the book Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace yet (I plan to, because I don't fear information and enjoy engaging with it in many forms, I also like to understand other people), but I have inferred from the title (and hearing from my friends that it is depressing but really funny), that the punch line is life is a big joke. David Foster Wallace was a very prolific, monetarily successful, celebrated figure– and he committed suicide by hanging himself.
Let's make a metaphor, and say life is a game (like an RPG). The secret to life is that success is relative to the individual, and that happiness is the name of the game. If you are happy, you are successful. Period. Don't weigh your happiness in relation to others, because it will decrease your happiness (that's jealousy). Someone will always have more, and someone will always have less. Everyone in life is dealt a different hand, so it is about what you do with it to make it worthwhile. In the game of life, you are winning as long as you are alive and progressing. Game over is when you die.
I know wealthy and unwealthy happy and unhappy people; there can be happy people in dire environments, and unhappy people in immaculate ones. Happiness comes from within! It's all about how you think. Sidenote: you can change your environments, but it is much more about the people in them than the environments themselves. I've been in really nice environments with unpleasant people and in really unpleasant environments with really nice people– the latter is usually more enjoyable.
If you can learn to be content with what you have, while striving for more, you can be successful your entire life. In other cases "success" is a perceived goal, a desire to feel a cathartic moment– imagined as nirvana. I don't believe nirvana (or heaven) exists. There is no final ("perfect") happiness state, you experience happiness, it dissolves, and then you work for more happiness. You can always work for more happiness. It's good to have goals, but learn to be happy and engaged with the present, and you could experience a lot of stress relief, and still enjoy the residual good feelings of future achievements. That's creating a win-win situation for yourself.
As a human being I want to be happy, and I am attracted to truth. "Truth is beauty, beauty is truth." Neuroscience shows that there is no "you" inside of you (or soul, or unchanging part– even our DNA changes). You are literally your mind. You are literally what you think. You are literally the story you tell yourself. That story is generally created by the ebb and flow of what you think about yourself, what you think others think, and what you think others think of you. If you understand identity is not a question of finding yourself, but that it is a question of creating yourself, you gain degrees of power over your own free will and your experience through life.
Whenever I need to make myself feel better I remind myself that I exist. I am a human being, an alpha animal on this planet. I'm on the top of the food chain. As a human, I am the most adaptable, best equipped animal for life, capable of surviving radically different environments and situations. I think of the breadth of human capabilities, combined with our ability to use tools and cooperate as the reason we are so cool (or as some people may confuse themselves, that is why we are "above nature"– but I don't think we are above nature any more than a shaky surfer is above the ocean; I believe everything comes from nature, including us and the things we create). The fact that I exist is a statistical miracle, the fact that anything exists at all blows my mind every time I think about it. I love being around to experience things and new things. I love progress, because perceived sense of progress is happiness. The amazing thing is if you focus into this, you can take little experiences and churn them into happiness. You can make the banalities of life exhilarating if you engage your mind. You can also raise your IQ by exercising your mind (just like you can increase your strength by physically exercising). This is awesome to think about because it is empowering information. Human beings have a keen ability to learn.
I am reminded of Kid Cudi's song The Pursuit of Happiness. In the music video we hear Kid Cudi say "I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know everything that shine aint always gonna be gold, hey I'll be fine once I get it, yeah I'll be good." What is fascinating is that he says he'll be "fine" once he get's it, he'll be "good." The it in the sentence is happiness, not "success." Kid Cudi has a successful career, he is at the coolest parties, he is financially stable, he is part of culture, and surrounded by beautiful, "successful" people– but none of that matters. Kid Cudi's somber portrayal of himself, contrasted against everyone elses' display of "happiness" alludes to the fact that he does not feel good. He does occasionally put on a good face, but "not feeling good" is visually punctuated at the end of the music video when he blind drunkenly stumbles into a bathroom. This is a phenomenal song and Kid Cudi demonstrates he is a valuable and true artist opening himself to us, providing insight into human experience. I love this song.
I once heard the person you are most afraid to contradict is yourself. I don't want to be that kind of person, because I am more interested in being right, so I am not afraid to be wrong. That is because I am attracted to truth. This mindset creates an ongoing ebb and flow of thoughts, exciting you to keep engaged with the world and the universe. It provides stimulation, and is uplifting. It can make you optimistic.
You want to be an optimist. You don't want to be a pessimist or a reckless optimist. A pessimist usually doesn't do anything (in the name of the "precautionary principle"), and a reckless optimist can not foresee potential problems.
Carry on fellow #jungler. Live life, feel good, and don't stop thinking.