It’s why so many of us are ‘afraid’ of public speaking, or dancing in public or performing something else that we’re not good at.
What we’re really fearing in these situations is exposing our flaws to others; letting them see a part of us that’s hardly polished, refined and filtered but raw, exposed and open to criticism from all angles.
And of course we’re afraid – the prospect of judgement on something we’re not confident in is a scary thought.
But we shouldn’t be afraid.
You’ll see me mention vulnerability a lot in this space, so what do I mean by it?
When I talk about vulnerability, vulnerability is a balance.
It’s the answer to towing the line somewhere between:
a. rampant perfectionism (or not wanting others to view us as “less than ideal” in any way, and applying the same harsh judgements to others as we do to ourselves); and
b. self-deprecation (where we see ourselves as flawed in the most negative sense).
It’s a happy medium between two extremes.
To be vulnerable, you need to be content with yourself – and since so many of us fall into the camps of perfectionism and self-deprecation (and even sometimes both), this idea of being happy with who we are is a difficult thing for a lot of us to make peace with.
Despite perfectionists and self-deprecators being on opposite ends of the spectrum, they have one thing in common: they see their flaws as highly negative attributes and that while those flaws continue to exist within them, they’re not good enough as a person.
The difference in the two types comes in the way that they handle that fear.
Perfectionists work so damn hard chasing the unachievable dream of ridding themselves of all flaws (in the hopes of seeking approval, which is very different to a healthy attitude of self-improvement).
So, if you experience (or have ever experienced) thoughts of either a perfectionist or self-deprecating nature, there’s a chance that you’ll somewhat struggle with the idea of being vulnerable.
Vulnerability is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
We know that if we reveal our authentic selves to the world, we’re removing our coat of armour.
We know that we might be judged, labelled and misunderstood by others – and that prevents so many of us from actively choosing authenticity and vulnerability.
What we forget is that we’ll be judged regardless of whether we’re fearlessly authentic and exposing our vulnerabilities or whether we’re holding back the real us, keeping it in a locked cage behind the facade of who we wish to be seen as.
Vulnerability is uncertainty. It’s fear. It’s risk.
Vulnerability is scary, I get it.
The sorts of questions that might run through your head may be:
- What if I’m judged?
- What will they think of me?
- What if I’m not what he/she/they all want me to be?
- What if I fail?
- What if those around me abandon me?
But instead, I ask you this:
What if you lived your life, never fully engaging with who you truly are? Is that worth the risk?
Especially as modern women, we raise ourselves under the notion that we must be so self-sufficient and so driven and so not reliant on anyone for anything at any time.
As a society, women have fought so hard to shake off the idea that our sole purpose is to take care of our man and raise a family. I consider myself as incredibly privileged to live in a time where I can focus on my dreams (no matter what they might be) and where I’m able to define my own purpose, rather than being told that my only purpose as a woman is to be a mother (not that that isn’t a valid choice too, though). I know so many of you feel the same.
But in this struggle to be seen as the strong, empowered and driven beings that we really are, many of us have lost sight of the courage that can be found in being vulnerable. Many of us have confused “vulnerable” with “weak”.
Vulnerability is so often seen as a sign of weakness – but it’s quite the opposite.
“When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
~ Dr. Brené Brown, renowned expert on vulnerability.
To be vulnerable, you must firstly love yourself. You must also know that it takes practice – and that’s where many people give up. They start being vulnerable, they psych themselves out and they give up.Vulnerability allows you to embrace your truths. Refuse to be anyone else but who you are! Click To Tweet
So today, I challenge you:
What’s holding you back from being your fearlessly authentic, vulnerable, raw, awesome self?
What would it take for you to step past that fear of judgement, criticism and abandonment and know that you’re gonna rock this shit, regardless of who approves?
Be vulnerable. Be raw. Expose your truths.
You have everything to lose by being anything other than who you really are.