I’ve been having some important conversations about vulnerability lately, because it seems to be laid on thick around here, for myself and those I care about. It’s one of the more confusing experiences, I think, because of how much emotion it is packed with, and how it hangs on until its done its work.
On the surface, vulnerability can look like a bad thing. It’s not comfortable. It certainly does not feel safe. It is not grounded in logic, and therefore does not easily "make sense." It leaves us raw and exposed and insecure. Who would want to experience those things? Those things feel bad. Surely they must be bad, right?
Yep. End of blog. Get a hold of yourself and move on, ya wackadoodle.
It’s in these tender moments that we have two major options.
Option one: Abort mission
Stuff it away, shame it away, put our walls up, put our armor on, blame and criticize it on to others, fight it off, fall silent, logic it in to submission, self-sabotage, force the situation to escape discomfort, or become so paralyzed with fear that we retract back in to our familiar and comfortable ways of moving through the world.
The consequence: You don’t get to feel the good things nearly as deeply.
Option two: Lean in and work with it
Experience it in whatever ways are most authentic for you, even if it’s messy or confusing or makes you feel like a wackadoodle. Feel it without expecting other people to alleviate it. Admit that you are vulnerable. Admit that it is human. Let it be there. Know that logic has no place in this territory.
The consequence: It feels pretty bad, until it doesn’t anymore.
Option two is inevitably the harder choice. It encourages us to choose discomfort. It invites us to go against our basic survival instincts, beyond our habitual patterns, and into the ether. That mystical, energetic space where truth exists. Where there is no easy fix. Where you are vincible.
“Yes, dear,” it says, “You do not have the answer. You do not control the situation. You took a risk. You let yourself be seen. There is nothing more you can do here except believe that it was the truest thing you could have done, that the alternative is worse, that it hurts because it’s important. You did your best. Yes, dear. Take a seat here. Let this run its course.”
There are a lot of “bad” words to use when describing what vulnerability feels like. But when you choose to be with it, you find something else. Dare I say, something good?
Do you feel it in the heaviness of your nerves? Do you feel it in the shortness of breath? Do you feel it in sweaty palms? Do you feel it in that knot in your chest that won’t untie itself no matter how many deep breaths you take? Do you feel it in the racing thoughts, in the questions you may never know the answers to? Do you feel it in the hope that you are not alone? Do you feel it in the hope that you are seen?
Vulnerability is a reminder that you are alive.
The more I tune in to my own vulnerability, the more I can see how true that statement is. The affirmation is in the experience. If you don’t let it be, it will not reward you. It still feels messy and confusing. I still feel insecure and raw and vincible. I’m still not totally convinced I’m not a wackadoodle.
But I can feel it, in the smile that spreads across my face when I think about how brave it is to try. In the knowledge that I am worthy, that I am and will be deeply seen, so long as I continue to show up. In the curiosity. In the excitement. In the ether.
This is what being alive feels like. And so, I choose this.
I hope you do, too, friends.
I hope you do, too.