One of the earliest lessons of my grad school experience was of the importance of vulnerability. Yeah, the courage to speak about where you are ACTUALLY at, rather than what “looks better” or what other’s might feel more comfortable hearing. I got really good at that last one. In fact, I think that quality lead me into this career as a therapist. I have always been so, SO good at making others feel more comfortable. At times, to my detriment...but I digress.
Vulnerability. It’s counter-culture, don’t you think? I mean, our culture looks at vulnerability as weakness. “Always put your best foot forward,” they say. “No one needs to know about the hard times, those are best kept to yourself.”
And oh, how easy it is to take in that advice. Really, it is easy. And way more comfortable- sometimes for us, definitely for others. Think about our answer to “How are you?” Often, it’s a passing remark. Usually...like, nearly always, we anticipate the response we know is coming. “Fine.” No matter what is actually going on, we learn early that the appropriate response is “Fine.”
Horrible morning? “Fine.”
Spilled coffee all over you? “Fine.”
Argument with your partner. “Fine.”
Losing your mind because you just asked your child to do something for the ACTUAL 50th time. Just me?
My point is, we don’t want to share what is REAL in life. Why? Maybe because we think everyone else has it better- maybe they actually DO HAVE the perfect life. Maybe we think we are the only ones that could possibly be feeling this way, or experiencing this thing.
Perhaps it’s fear of rejection. We’re afraid we won’t be received well in our distress, and you know what? That’s valid. It takes so much courage to put our ”real self” out there for others to see.
What’s really interesting about vulnerability is how CONNECTING it can be. That’s right, putting our “best foot forward” only lends itself to other people’s best feet. Ew. So not connecting.
Maybe that was a bad pictorial reference.
Anyway- when we only show our best, we also tend to only see everyone else’s “best”...whatever that may be. We’re often left feeling alone and incompetent in our life.
WHAT? That’s so messed up.
Being vulnerable is courageous. It requires strength. It goes against the grain of society’s conformity. And when we offer up our humanity, we have the opportunity...the beautiful opportunity to bear witness to the humanity of another. In that, there is connection.
And, suddenly, life is just a little more bearable, and a little less lonely.
I want to challenge you to be vulnerable this week...even just a little. Reflect on what your usual response might have been, and then compare what felt different about this one.
If you get the chance, I’d love to hear about it!
Speaking of vulnerability...I’m feeling pretty vulnerable in sharing this first post and clicking “publish” on my site/blog. I would absolutely LOVE your feedback- all of it! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with what I can improve or what you really enjoyed.
Take care, friends.