My wife and I often play a game called “the one thing I don’t want you to know about me right now”. Ok I will be honest, it is mostly her trying to play the game and me trying to change the subject. Isn’t that just what we do? Being vulnerable is no walk in the park, especially when we are conditioned to hide all the things that challenge and scare us. You know the “put a smile on your face and hide all the rest” mentality.
Brene Brown defines vulnerability as “a state of emotional exposure that comes with a certain degree of uncertainty. It involves a person’s willingness to accept the emotional risk that comes from being open and willing to love and be loved”. I don’t know about you but I can feel that definition in my bones. Any attempt to explore the very depths of ourselves and others, especially when we are unsure of the outcome or what we may uncover, is a lesson in vulnerability. This type of connection isn’t the “smash and grab emotional dumping” we are used to seeing. Vulnerability is not telling your whole life story to a stranger in the grocery line and then saying “hey look at me, I am being so vulnerable”. Instead the vulnerability I am talking about is born from the desire to live the fullest expression of ourselves in support of authenticity and true connection. Vulnerability in this form becomes the necessary action of both self expression and connection, the real starting point of authenticity.
So what is the “one thing I don’t want you to know about me right now”? Ok I will play along, but just this once. The one thing that I don’t want you to know is I am often anxious and afraid, with a side of self doubt just for good measure. But do you know what, that’s ok. Each day is a new opportunity to explore those parts of ourselves we have kept hidden for fear of being “found out”. To make peace with their existence as a part of the wholeness of this experience we call life. The more we can cultivate our willingness to be vulnerable, and create spaces where others can do the same, the more we will experience the ultimate prize of vulnerability….connection. The sort of connection that allows us to live our fullest lives, and invites and honors that ability in EVERYONE.