How many of us struggle to be vulnerable in public because we think of vulnerability as weakness? When I witness others being vulnerable, I think of them as courageous. Seeing real truth and openness in other people is inspiring, but letting them see it in me? Now that’s a different story. I worry that if I show you my real self, the parts of me that are disorganized, trite and clueless, you’ll run quick in the other direction. So I edit the shadowy side of me and dress up the stuff that feels incomplete or inadequate so you will (maybe) approve of me. Sound familiar?
As author and researcher Brene Brown says, the truth is that openness is the opposite of weakness. I’ve “confused feeling with failing and raw emotion with liability.” The things that are hard for me to do – saying no, asking for help, calling a friend who is grieving, or trying again when my first attempt bombed – aren’t these are acts of courage over fear? Strength over weakness? Books like Daring Greatly help me reframe my fears and setbacks and see my struggles not as weakness but as evidence of my ‘daring’ to risk and and grow anyway. Now there’s a helpful reframe!
In Women’s Forum, we say that if you don’t feel slightly uncomfortable in each meeting, you’re holding something back. I’ve come to learn that it’s not the broken parts of me that I’m withholding, but the strength it takes to risk naming what’s real. My wForum celebrates vulnerability. And so I get regular reminders that even when I don’t get what I want or don’t hit a home run, it’s not because I was weak; it’s because I was learning. And in the big picture, I’d much rather be in the game than standing at the sidelines. Wouldn’t you?
Tell us about a risk you’ve taken and what you’ve learned about yourself in daring greatly. You can send us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.