Remember the first day of high school? How scary, overwhelming, exciting and nerve-wracking it all felt?
What about the last day of high school!? What a party! How that insecurity changed to confidence in those four short years.
I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately. Maybe it’s because we are in the middle of some major transitions…new job, new home, new town, new people, new schools, new everything! This upcoming change has caused me to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going, what I’ve done and what I want to do, who I am and who I want to be. Why is it that the unknown often causes doubt and insecurity in us? I think it’s partially because we are afraid to be vulnerable.
We tend to see vulnerability as showing our weaknesses, needing help, not knowing all the answers. Webster’s 1828 online dictionary tells us that vulnerability is “that [which] may be wounded; susceptible of wounds or external injuries.” Are we not all vulnerable all of the time, then? If so, why are we afraid to show that side of ourselves, at least some of the time?
Brene Brown, renowned sociologist has said, “Change does not require heroics. Change begins when we practice ordinary courage.”
I’ve been really psyching myself up for this move. “It’s going to be a great, new adventure,” I tell my kids. “I can’t wait to be in our new home.” “It will be so great to meet new people.” “Just think of the possibilities!!” Yet, deep inside there is a small storm brewing, one full of worries and hope that I won’t mess up!
Brown continues, “We are often so influenced by what other people need us to be that we actually lose touch with our sense of self. We lose our grounding. We lose our authenticity. The reason this is so painful is because our authenticity is the very foundation from which all meaningful change occurs (emphasis added).”
I think it’s the ability to change that excites me the most. I want to take this opportunity to make those changes I haven’t quite figured out here. Or I want to work on new characteristics I’ve since forgotten I needed. A fresh start is just that…refreshing. But at the same time, I am so comfortable here, where I am. I like who I have become here. I feel confident. I feel similar to how I felt that first day (or year!) of college…leaving that place of overwhelming confidence to a new place of vulnerability, surrounded by lots of other students trying hard not to show their own vulnerabilities. In those early years, I was trying so hard to be what I thought “they ” wanted me to be! I am not that girl any more, but I’m still feeling quite vulnerable. Here’s what I’m learning:
If we go into a place ready to accept what we do not yet know or understand, we can keep that confidence and do that thing which is hard. It’s when we go in hoping to be seen as _______ (whatever characteristic you think “they” want), we will struggle. Rather than going in with thoughts of, “What will they think of me?” Maybe we should try, “I wonder what I will learn from them.” I’m learning that when we share our vulnerabilities with others, we become real to them; there is greater connection and the ability to share more compassion.
Going to a place with so many unknowns is pretty scary. But the truth is that the more I try to put on my “perfect” self, the more I am going to struggle. And so here is my public commitment: I will choose to not know what I do not know, to be my authentic self (flaws and all!), to find ways to bring smiles to others rather than hoping for them to make me smile, and to laugh at all of my mistakes along the way!
This article appeared first on Real Imprints.