I recently listened to a podcast with Brene Brown and Dr. Yaba Blay. In it, Dr. Blay was asked the question, "What is vulnerability?" To which she answered, " Vulnerability is being able to walk around with an open wound." This struck me right to my core.
Many people tell me I'm a vulnerable person. To someone on the outside, especially on social media, it might seem as though it comes naturally to me. In some ways it does, particularly online. For some reason there, I feel like I can share and whoever hears it hears it. In person, and really where I think it matters most, vulnerability is much more challenging. It hasn't come easy for me. It's taken a lot of practice. It's also taken a lot of risk. When I share something from my heart... something I'm upset or worried about, something I'm feeling... I run the risk of being rejected. I run the risk of the person on the receiving end not listening, not caring, or not holding space for me. When I got out of the Uber at the place I was staying for my leadership training with two other women I'd never met in person before, I took pause. I was nervous. "What if they don't like me? What if I don't get along with them? Maybe this was a bad idea." The idea of me being seen sometimes scares the crap out of me. I've had many moments of "why bother? no one cares, it doesn't matter anyway" moments. And yet.
I know how much my ability to be vulnerable with the people I care about in my life makes a difference.
Some of you know I started Teacher Training this week. Last week, I started out with 3 confirmed and 2 verbal committed. By the end of the week, just days before training, I was down to 2 people. I'll admit, I lost my shit. I got caught up in numbers and let it get to me and I just sobbed my eyes out one evening. I felt like a failure. I felt like no one cared. I felt like I'd put all this time and energy and money into people signing up and what did I have to show for it? I knew I was going to put myself in a black hole if I wasn't careful. I also knew the next thing I had to do was almost as scary as what I was feeling in that moment.
I had to verbalize it to my husband, and I had to reach out to my girlfriends.
Looking into my husband eyes, sobbing, pouring my heart out, and ugly crying in his chest until his shirt was soaked was the ultimate moment of vulnerability. Yet, inspite of showing my open wound, my husband sat there and let me cry and held me. Literally held me up and kept me going.
The text to my girlfriends. was not easy to write. I didn't like admitting that I felt bad about 2 sign-ups. I didn't like admitting that I was mad about people cancelling. I didn't like that everything didn't go exactly as I'd planned or hoped or dreamed. I wrote it all down. I poured my heart out. Then, I set my phone in the other room and went to bed.
I woke up to love. Love and encouragement and outpouring and reminders that it was never about me. I woke up to being held and supported by people in my life I care about. The support of my husband and my girlfriends strengthened me. It carried me. It made me so dang EXCITED to have 2 beautiful souls in training to work with, and to have time to really dig deep, answer questions and build community. The support I received made our first weekend of teacher training a success. It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been willing to walk around with my open wound.
THIS is why I practice vulnerability. Because in times of crisis, when the 1st thing I want to do is run, receiving support helps me stay and get grounded, feel my feelings and move forward. It un-sticks me. Showing my wounds makes me more relatable to people, and them to me. It invites in a powerful intimacy. Vulnerability, I'm seeing, is what gets me through this life.
Our problems can sometimes feel impossible challenging. too much for us to bare, so why would we bother putting them on someone else? Consider that in sharing your struggles, and your successes, sharing your whole self, you are gifting someone with the opportunity to see you, and in return to be seen. It doesn't mean we have to share our deepest darkest secrets to everyone. It does mean, we can practice reaching out to those we trust, and be courageous in taking the risk.
What is the open wound you need to show someone today, and what could be possible if you showed it?