If you look up the definition of vulnerable, it isn't very pretty. Oxford English Dictionary defines vulnerable as "susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm," coming from the Latin vulnerare which means "to wound." When thinking about vulnerability, it always is a word that makes me feels like squirming around in my chair. It is difficult because it exposes us, scrapes away our perfection shells and exposes the hidden scars.
It makes us uncomfortable.
It makes me uncomfortable.
I fully place myself into the category of perfectionist. I also place myself in the category of being guarded and difficult to get to know. I am fully aware that the two work hand in hand to beat back vulnerability. I'm difficult to get to know because I am a perfectionist who only wants certain pre-approved bits of knowledge to get out. I'm a perfectionist because I even if I want people to get to know me I am desperately afraid of them getting to know me.
Dr. Brene Brown talks about vulnerability and how those who she found lived the most "whole-hearted" life embraced vulnerability and realized that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. These people shared the traits of courage, compassion and connection as well: The courage to tell the story of who they truly are with their whole hearts, the compassion to be kind to yourself first and then to others and a level of connection with others that was a result of authenticity. The lived from who they truly were even though they risk the unknown and the uncontrollable.
As a society, we numb vulnerability and push away things that may cause us pain. We drink, we eat for the sake of eating, we engage in meaningless sex and we binge watch Netflix for hours to avoid and distract us from the reality in front of us. We try to make the uncertain certain in order to control outcomes. We prefect in order to disguise. We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on the people around us. We don't realize that by protecting ourselves we end up hurting other people.
Vulnerability entails a lot of trust. Trust that we can let ourselves be seen and handle whatever may come of that. Trust that if we love with our whole hearts and end up heartbroken, that we can bounce back. Trust that we are enough.
I'm taking on vulnerability as my word of 2015. It is the year I turn 25 and is the year I was to discover who I am and let that be known to the world.
It's so not going to be easy. It's so not going to be pretty.
But I'm betting it will be one heck of a journey.
I found Dr. Brene Brown through a guest post by Maxie McCoy on my favorite blog, The College Prepster, called "A perfectionist's Guide to the Holidays". Below is Dr. Brown's Ted Talk: The Power of Vulnerability