“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.” -Brené Brown
I gather inspiration from many sources; most often from the people I meet or books I read. See my post Inspiration is Everywhere here if you need more proof. Recently one of my dearest friends sent me the book Daring Greatly, which focuses on embracing vulnerability and imperfection in an effort to live wholeheartedly, allowing us to engage fully in our lives. The author, Dr. Brené Brown, defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. She argues that our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection is opening ourselves up to being vulnerable.
Confession: I really suck at being vulnerable.
There are few things I hate more than being vulnerable. It’s a terrible feeling to endure really, similar to what I imagine standing naked onstage in front of a huge audience would be like. Exposed and defenseless. Until recently I didn’t even realize how much effort I expend to shield myself from vulnerability. I’m talking years of work here, people. Thousands of hours spent building walls around myself to act like a coat of armor. And I wasn’t even aware I was doing it!
The vulnerabilities are everywhere. In my blogging I worry that I’m not posting often enough, that I’m too serious, that I over-share, that I’m not funny enough, that I’m too honest. At my job I worry that I’m not learning fast enough, not being assertive enough, being too assertive, not taking on as many tasks as I could, or taking on tasks I have no business handling. When it comes to dating, I am at my most vulnerable. Painfully so. To explain why, I could dedicate an entire blog to dating misadventures. Thus far, I have fought that urge- but no promises for the future.
All of these insecurities have the same fear at their root: that I am simply not enough. This identity of not being enough has come to make me always act on the defense, prepare for the worst, and regard feelings as the enemy. For example, when I get really really angry I cannot help but cry. I hate this. I am MAD, not sad. I should be yelling not CRYING! For me, this emotion has always equaled weakness. But you know what I realized? This negative self-talk is not helpful, or even true. Emotion is not weakness, and neither is vulnerability. I am enough, and it’s about time I started believing that.
There is a lot of power in realization. Knowledge is power right? Well that power of knowing means I’m screwed, because now I need to work on it.
Enter: The Vulnerability Project
I have been living my life with the intention of protecting myself. This intention is misguided. My intention of living needs to be to live joyously, to have experiences, to love wholeheartedly, and most of all- to thrive. In order to do this, I need to break up with two of my longtime companions: fear and shame. How am I going to do this exactly? No clue. My first step will be to live with the intention of allowing myself to be vulnerable. I will make a daily effort to break down old ways and establish the new. I will keep telling myself that I can and will dare greatly.