I have been thinking a lot about the term vulnerability lately. It is such a two edged sword–on one edge is the idea of being open, being a risk taker, being passionate and exposed to life. Sucking the marrow out of life as they say in one of my favorite all time movies Dead Poets Society. However, in reality being vulnerable has the potential to cause pain. Thus the double edged sword. Inherent in the act of vulnerability is risk. The risk to love, to dream, to inspire, to aspire, to be happier. All of those things require us to be open and vulnerable to potential pain and suffering.
Vulnerability by it’s very nature means potentially being wrong, it means opening oneself up to pain and sorrow. Vulnerability means potentially failing, picking the “wrong” love, aspiring for the “wrong” goal, putting one’s hope and dreams on the line. It means, letting someone see me as weak—that I haven’t planned ahead—that I am not in control. Vulnerability is full exposure. It is all defenses down, no safety net, no harness. Not being willing to be vulnerable is why many of us are afraid to move forward in our lives. Because being vulnerable leaves us raw, open and exposed.
However, I believe vulnerability has gotten a bad wrap. Vulnerability in my opinion is truly living. It is juicy and risky and in some ways down right relaxing. It allows us to drop the pretense of control or perfection (which we never really have anyway) and really just live–allowing people to see us for who we are and allowing us to be open to their love and their vulnerability. Vulnerability is being human and trusting that it will all work out how as it should even if decisions cause pain and challenges. Even if I mess up big time and end up a puddle on the floor. Even when someone sees me fully exposed, naked, bare souled crying and miserable. Vulnerability allows them to pick me up and dust me off and share a part of my soul. Vulnerability is not a weakness, from vulnerability comes great strength.
What greater gift than that to give to someone and to myself the gift of me being me–no pretense or hiding, just me. AH! That is the challenge: to live life open and vulnerable, not scared, sad and insecure. Not using the hammer on a regular basis. Open to what life brings you, open to the people in your life and the relationships that if you would just let in might be the best thing that ever happened to you.
We are not taught to live with vulnerability, we are taught play it safe, be responsible, protect yourself. But I will push back and say some of the best experiences of my life have been when I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, both in my career and in my personal life. I am not saying all of those experiences were joyful happy ones, but they were rich and juicy and I wouldn’t change them for the world. The ACTUAL quote from, The Dead Poet’s Society is “Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone. There is a time for daring, and there is a time for caution. A wise man understands which is called for.” That is the challenge of vulnerability, trusting yourself to know when to be open and when to be cautious.
Today think about where could you be more open to life, where could you tear down some walls and allow some light in? Where could you drop the illusion of control and relax a bit into your humanity?
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