I have deep respect and admiration for Brene Brown. Not only does she research shame and vulnerability, and other “difficult subjects,” but she lives them, and she shares her own experiences to help other people learn and grow. Recently, I watched Brene’s latest TED talk on ‘Listening to shame.’ While the parts about shame were interesting, it was the introductory piece on vulnerability that really spoke to me. Brene points out one of the common misconceptions in our society: that vulnerability is weakness. She says that, in fact, it is quite the opposite, declaring that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.
It is this juxtaposition of society’s definition and Brene’s (which I think is 100% true) that I have struggled with pretty much my whole life. I’ve always been a quiet person, coming out of my shell more and more as I got older. But, I’m still perfectly content to sit back and take things in. I like to observe and listen, but I do have a voice and I know how to use it. In fact, once you get to know me, I can be quite the blabbermouth. Get me talking about fashion trends or football, and you’re a goner. But, opening up and being vulnerable, putting myself out there and selling myself, is difficult and scary. When I was fresh out of college, I had a job interview with an especially outgoing interviewer with a strong personality. I was taken aback and lost some of my enthusiasm. As a result, I was quiet enough that the interviewer eventually asked if I was always this timid. I have never forgotten that moment, and have vowed never to be timid again. I hate that word…but, being a quiet observer is safe and comfortable for me, so it’s easier said than done.
The only place that I have been able to be truly vulnerable is this blog. I have always expressed myself better through the written word, and here I have found an incredible community of supporters and friends. Over the past few years, I have revealed some pretty personal stuff. I have dug deep and bared my soul. It feels good, and I love the responses that I get. But, I would be lying if I said that clicking publish still doesn’t scare the crap out of me sometimes. Thousands of questions scroll through my head, and I wonder if I’m a crazy person for writing about my personal life in such a public way. Writing these posts makes me feel very vulnerable and it definitely takes courage. The key for me is to translate that courage to my offline life. It’s something that I’m constantly working on, but it’s an uphill climb.
How do you define vulnerability? How do you get over the fear of putting yourself out there?