Vulnerability. When searching for a definition online, these examples can be found:
With such examples, “vulnerability” fed into even more fears than I thought I had.
You mean I have to willingly be open to emotional harm and willingly go back?
Vulnerability is open, it’s complicated, and it can be taken the wrong way. Or worse, it can be used against us. Being vulnerable, or even thinking about being vulnerable, was something that I never, ever wanted to do. I never wanted to talk about feelings or what kept me up at night, let alone have the responsibility of knowing someone else’s. Being vulnerable didn’t feel like an act of courage, but rather an act of fear. Being vulnerable was seen as a weakness, not a strength worth rumbling (having tough conversations with or about) with. With all of this fear, I absolutely, positively, set myself up for failure.
For many, including myself, vulnerability is difficult to rumble with. As humans, we’re taught to put up defenses and protect our hearts at all costs. We refuse to let anyone find our Achilles heel and we prefer isolation over companionship. Yet in all of this isolation, it’s cold, lonely, and we often pin the blame on someone or something else. We refuse to see that walls are less human than actually being human with our own thoughts and feelings. It wasn’t until reading Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead that I recognized how high my walls stood, and just how difficult they are to climb.
As myself and so many others classified vulnerability as a weakness, we then classify feeling vulnerable to begin with as a weakness and insinuate feeling as a weakness. Is feeling happy a weakness? Is feeling sad or angry, or any other human emotion, a weakness? Then why do we consider feeling vulnerable a weakness? If we want to have courage and success, we have to be vulnerable with others to have the support needed for victory. If we want to find joy, we have to be vulnerable in our pursuits and willing to overcome adversity. If we want to love or be loved, we have to be vulnerable with chances of fulfillment or rejection. If we even want to be human, we need to rumble with our feelings and be content that they exist. Is being human a weakness?
“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.” - Brené Brown
So many times, we shield ourselves from the world and refuse to face our fears. Challenging vulnerability is a battle of its own, but when willing to rumble, it can show just how freeing Life is. We have the opportunity to lead with courage and willingly get back up when we stumble from adversity. Connections can prosper and support teams are developed, and walls begin to erode away with every honest conversation. Being vulnerable is absolutely, positively, difficult to do, but is easier with every stride. Dictionaries describe vulnerability as weakness, but I prefer the way Brené Brown describes it to Merriam-Webster’s definition:
Vulnerability: The emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
It may not always be easy, but having the courage to show up and dare greatly just may change your life. You may even find yourself living.
Still Figuring it Out,
Morgan Ann Hinz