“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open”. — Stephen Russel
The world judges harshly, ‘world’ here being me, you, your partner, your kids, your parents, siblings, our friends, your uncles, aunts, grandparents, our colleagues at work, the gym buddies, those you go to church with, the neighbour next door, the lady at the till in the grocery store, the guy in the elevator, the Uber driver, the lady on the escalator, the plumber, your long lost cousin, the call centre agent, even your dog. Everyone around us.
There are many instances where we have often worn our masks to fit in (no pun intended), concealing our true selves, opinions or behaviours. For the fear of being judged or drawing attention to your true self, you may have conformed a bit more than is necessary to be accepted, to be part of the crowd. And while sometimes this is done to adapt to your environment short term, eventually, it tends to conflict with you are.
It’s hard to be open, to expose one’s self to unsolicited scrutiny, to attain an ‘almost’ alignment of values and actions. Why? Because it is a process that is unfiltered, one that causes us to become vulnerable. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes vulnerability as “open to attack, harm or damage .i.e. exposed, sensitive”; while Openness is described as “free, having no enclosing or confining barrier, exposed or vulnerable to attack”. Two adjectives which in my opinion, are essential to living a well-rounded life but which we struggle with.
The more I think of it, the idea of embracing openness while being vulnerable is somewhat a paradox, because thanks to social media, you and I can be as open as we plan/want to be, but on the flip side, there is another side of us that no one is privy to, except us. You know what I mean — the part of yourself that only your shadow is aware of. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How often have I acted outside my true self just because I was not ready for people discovering the real me- flaws, strengths, history, etc.?
- How often have I refused to voice my opinion because it was not popular sentiment?
- How often have I denied myself the pleasure of enjoying meaningful connections, and being close to people because I am unsure if they will accept me for who I am?
We are in the throes of opinion censorship these days, and sentiments that often go against the consensus are viciously attacked. Speaking up in any face to face setting, or on any social platform nowadays is an invitation to scrutiny, judgement and unwarranted attacks, and it further defeats any attempts at being open. However, you can’t choose to live such a guarded life, hiding behind yourself.
Give yourself permission to be expressive and speak your mind even when everyone in the room disagrees with you- it is one of the joys of intellectual and emotional diversity and such a liberating experience. A decision to practice vulnerability will pave way for a lifestyle switch up, and I urge you to not deprive yourself of the liberation it brings.