I am inspired by so much of Brene Brown’s work in the areas of shame and vulnerability. Vulnerability is being our genuine and authentic selves out in the open, with flaws and shortcomings as well as our unique strengths and personal desires. This takes courage and bravery. But it doesn’t often feel courageous. Like Brene says, it feels like weakness. It seems safer to stay hidden, to create a buffer by being invisible or being impressive. And it’s true, that does keep us “safer”, but it also keeps us from connection, something essential to our humanity. Our very health is dependent upon healthy connection with other humans. The reality is that we aren’t always safe with those around us. Should we let that keep us from being our authentic and genuine selves? If we wish to live fully alive, to be everything we know we are and can be, we must continue to grow and become more vulnerable. That means we must seek those healthy individuals who will encourage us in our growth and becoming. This also means we have to begin consciously and purposely accepting all of ourselves, the strengths and weaknesses, the beauty and the flaws. We will grow and change, but we are here right now in the imperfect present.
It seems I’ve been on this journey of vulnerability and authenticity my whole life. My childhood was mostly survival, trying to be what my dad wanted so I could get his approval as well as avoid his wrath, while at the same time always having big dreams and desiring to make a positive impact on the world. Since getting away from that home situation in my early twenties, I have spent my adulthood in personal discovery and the pursuit of authenticity. It amazes me what a journey it is, how long some discoveries take. But it is a worthy journey, one that deserves all the time and energy I’ve devoted to it. I am finding that the stronger I become in spirit, the more courageous I am in loving and accepting myself just as I am, with my fears and anxieties, the unique gifts, dreams, and goals that others may not understand.
Vulnerability is sometimes scary in the present moment. But I like to think of situations in reference to the thoughts I will have on my deathbed. Supposing I have lived long enough to know when my life’s end is near, what will I be thinking? Will I wish I had been more impressive with my career, made more money, made more connections, shared more of who I am with the world? Every time I think of this I know that positive connections with the people around me and bravely pursuing and sharing my authentic fullness will be what I am most grateful for. And that gives me the courage and strength to be vulnerable, to pursue life fully alive.