I need to learn how to be vulnerable.
I realize that I’m afraid to show all of me. I have a fear of showing some of my weaknesses or sharing some of my desires. I’ve learned to hold things in, toughen up and handle things by myself.
Overall, I’m an assertive person, well at least I think I am. I let people know my feelings and concerns. However, it’s hard for me to share my whole self.
I’m reading Brené Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” and she talks about how becoming vulnerable makes us courageous, compassionate and connected. That it takes courage to let people see your imperfections, flaws, your inner most desires and even your power. Courage in vulnerability brings connection with someone who then can relate in the midst of compassion.
Here is a perfect, simple and funny example, in which I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable.
A few weeks ago I hung out with one of my best friends and she brought along her friend, a nice looking male friend at that. As I began speaking with him it seemed as our personalities clicked. He laughed at my jokes and I felt comfortable around him. I liked him and found him slightly attractive.
I think my friend sensed some chemistry between us and the next morning she asked, “What do you think of Ade*?” (In that sing-songy way you ask “Do you like him?”)
“He’s cool.” I replied nonchalantly.
I could tell by her reaction that she was annoyed with my answer. She was probably thinking, “Gosh, Esther! What’s the big deal? Anything else? Say more… what do you really think of him?”
So I added, “I can’t believe that he doesn’t go out much.” I quickly changed the subject.
Why didn’t I just tell her, my best friend, that I thought that he was kinda cute, that I thought he was funny and that I liked his personality?
What was I afraid of?
What am I afraid of?
I realize that at the root of it, I’m afraid to be vulnerable and all that comes with it: rejection, her reaction, hurt, awkwardness(who isn’t afraid of that!). I don’t want to come off desperate, like a hopeless romantic and find out that the guy doesn’t feel the same. That’s scary and I’m afraid to take that risk to my heart, body and soul.
Here’s the thing; vulnerability is a risk. But with any risk there is a good chance for the opposite of our fears to occur. There is a good chance for acceptance, success, love and connection. In that moment, I missed out on not only a possible date with Ade* but more importantly a chance to get closer and more connected with my friend.
Just to be clear there is a difference between being vulnerable and susceptible. Susceptible people are so vulnerable to the point in which they are repeatedly hurt and taken advantaged of, the hopeless romantic. These are people who are crushed greatly when things don’t go their way. I don’t want to be vulnerable and susceptible. I want to be vulnerable and realistic.
I want to be vulnerable enough to say, “Yes, I like him” and vulnerable enough to know that there is a chance that he isn’t attracted to me. But who cares? That’s his right. But for me, being vulnerable by having a crush and being able to share those feelings with someone I love like my friend is fun and exciting. By being vulnerable with my feelings, I benefit. I get closer with my friend just by allowing myself to be open with her which in turn will allow her to be more comfortable with me. This would strengthen our relationship and make us stronger.
True vulnerability is having the courage to take a risk and grow from that risk no matter the outcome. People don’t mention this but I think great business leaders allow themselves to be vulnerable. Having people reject your business idea time after time shows great courage while at the same time it displays great vulnerability.
God fearing people allow themselves to be vulnerable. God asks us to put all of our trust and faith in him. He wants us to be open to his love, his power, his grace, his guidance even when we aren’t certain of what his plan is for us.
God wants us to take a risk.
God wants us to be vulnerable.
There is power in vulnerability. According to Brown’s book, the word courage originally meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” That means that to be truly courageous we need to be totally honest and open with who we are. To be courageous we need to be vulnerable. That’s powerful.
So, I’m deciding to be vulnerable. When I see my friend at the park this week, I’m going to be courageous enough to tell my bestie the good news.
“I like him!”
“I’m curious about him!”
“Tell me about him!”
Who cares if he doesn’t like me? I’m mainly looking forward to sharing that experience, sharing my truth and sharing my humanness with my friend as we laugh and squeal on green grass.
At the end of the day, I have nothing to lose. My relationship with her will be stronger and who knows, I may even score a date! 😉
*Ade is a pseudonym