I don’t claim to be perfect. And I don’t have to be. Neither do you. Neither does anyone. So why are we ashamed to admit to those we love the most our flaws or failures? Why is shame a dominant emotion in our lives?
I used to be ashamed that I suffered from an eating disorder. Shame that was fueled by not feeling good enough, feeling that I was going to be judged for my depression, and keeping what I was doing to cope with life as a secret. I feel like shame is something we learn either through society and its unspoken rules or from those around us – feeling like we have to have it all together or feeling like we can’t have any weaknesses/flaws and if we do have them then we can’t let anyone else know about them. But once we learn to be vulnerable, then we can break free of shame. This is something I’m still learning how to do.
I don’t like to talk about myself or what I’m feeling with others. Not because I’m ashamed but because I have made it a habit to not be vulnerable – it is left over from the armor I used to protect myself when I was in the worst pain – if I don’t open up, then I can’t get hurt. But who wants to live that way? I certainly don’t.
A few days ago I was about to write in my journal (one that I have had for years) the goals that I have for the upcoming year when I stopped to read the very first entry written on August 24th, 2010. I wrote about my weight and weight loss (pretty much what I wrote about a lot back then). My calorie goal was 800 or less (which is nothing) and I couldn’t wrap my head around eating 1,200.
I’m so proud of myself that I’m not that person anymore.
And I want to be the same way with my vulnerability. Writing this down is easy. I don’t have to look you in the eyes while saying it. Vulnerability is scary & it’s messy & it’s what I feel I have to do to truly become the person I want to be.
How can I inspire you to be vulnerable if I am not? How can I tell you that it is okay to live your truth, that you will be loved, if I do not live it fully myself?
I have been thinking a lot about identity and about how what comes after the phrase “I am” shapes who we are and how we view ourselves. Most of the time we want it to be positive such as, “I am beautiful,” or, “I am loving,” but I believe if we can truly say, “I am vulnerable,” then our lives can change for the better.
One of my vulnerability inspirations (if you wanna call her that) is Brené Brown. While writing this, I rewatched her TED talks on vulnerability and shame to refresh myself on her research as well as to explore the topics again myself. She spoke truth to my soul about why we need to be vulnerable and that starts with us being authentic.
Vulnerability comes from authenticity.
Vulnerability asks us to admit our shortcomings, our desires, our fears – to come face to face with who we are and to show that face to others. It wants us to show our true selves despite the fear of rejection and despite the possibility we are going to make a fool of ourselves.
I’m striving for vulnerability and I think you should too.