“Connection is why we’re here.” — Brené Brown
The word “vulnerable” and the derivative “vulnerability” have been bandied about in my presence this week so I figured that meant I needed to write about it. I watched Brené Brown’s talk “The Power of Vulnerability” (below) because it’s been on my watch list for a long time and I finally got around to it.
In Brown’s talk she says, “Connection is why we’re here.” I believe it. The times I cherish the most are when I feel connected to a friend, my family, nature, or my higher power. I’ve also come to realize connection doesn’t happen unless I’m vulnerable. I need to create the space within me to allow others to come in, which only happens when my walls are down. It’s scary though. Admitting I’m scared of being vulnerable might sound funny coming from me considering I’ve already outed myself as an addict, and I wrote a whole damn book that shows off my warts, but it’s true. Whenever I allow myself to be vulnerable there’s still that fear I’m opening myself to harm. That instead of connecting with me I’m exposing my soft underbelly so you can rip my guts out.
Brown pinpoints this as shame and fear. Yep. Pretty much. So what’s a girl to do? Run away and keep my walls up forever and always sounds pretty good. Except that means I miss out on connection. Well crap. Obviously I have to continue to follow the motto that has been guiding me since I was 17 or so: “If you’re scared do it anyway.” I keep opening myself up, I keep allowing myself to be vulnerable, because the risk is worth it. Because I love connection so much. I live for connection. I absolutely love it when people call me up and share what’s really going on with them. I feel so honored they trusted me enough to do so.
Yeah, I hate, hate, hate being vulnerable, yeah I hate the possibility my vulnerability is going to be turned around and the person will use it as a weapon, but really that’s not going to happen. One, because I already know what my issues are, thank-you-very-much, so if someone tries to take pot-shots at me the wind will go out of their sails because my retort will be, “Yes, I know.” Two, like I would ever allow myself to be vulnerable to a jerk. I’m presuming here that anyone who picks up Just a Girl from Kansas will do so because they’re drawn to it. Any jerks or potential jerks will set it down. So really what am I opening myself up to? More connection.
As Brown mentions, we can’t pick and choose our feelings. I’ve heard before there’s only one switch for emotions and that’s “on.” Because when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable we also allow joy, creativity, belonging, and love to come in. We allow more sweetness than we can imagine. Yes, I effing hate being vulnerable but I choose to go forth and be courageous, which according to the original definition means to “tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”
I dream of a world where we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. A world where we know vulnerability breeds a lot of good things in our life. A world where we understand in order to get what we want we have to allow ourselves the possibility we’ll get hurt. As Brown says, a world where we’re grateful we feel so vulnerable because that means we’re alive.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.