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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vulnerability - Cringe-Worthy Or Empowering?

I am not ashamed to admit I have listened to this talk by Dr.Brene Brown about a half dozen times. Since Tuesday. Yeah, it seems I have some issues.

I am fascinated by how hard it is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to truly show ourselves to others. I like to think I'm pretty open and what-you-see-is-what-you-get and all, but in actuality, I'm a real wall builder.

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change," she posits. And I believe she is right. There is nothing more vulnerable than daring to risk. Daring to risk saying, "I love you," or "I'm not happy," or "I am going to follow my heart and leave this job I hate and start my own business." It's scary, and for the most part, most of us are pretty risk-averse. I know I am. Mostly...

I say mostly because for a control freak I am a pretty big risk taker. I know, that sounds counter-intuitive. I am a writer at a time when print journalism is dying, I'm a novelist about to debut my first book at a time when book stores are closing and the only people getting great book deals are cast members of "The Jersey Shore," and former child stars sharing their sordid tales of woe. Freelance journalists who have a modest following in a regional area do not get big bucks. But somehow, I've written a book, secured a great agent at a big literary agency, and together we are putting my book out there. And this is where the vulnerability and inevitable shame comes in.

That voice that says. "Who do you think you are? What makes you so darn special?" comes to roost on my shoulders several times a week. No one ever said to me, "Who do you think you are?" but it's there, this ugly, heavy cloak that robs me of sleep and peace of mind. That ugly voice that tells me I will fail. Yet, something keeps me going. A combination of love of what I do, and a stubbornness to make it work. I would bet that stubbornness has a lot to do with overcoming fear.

What I love about Dr.Brown's assertions is that far from being a sign a weakness, being vulnerable takes great strength.

I think about how hard it is as a woman to show my vulnerability, and realize it is exponentially harder for men. Perhaps as women we need to show the men we love that they can come down off those white horses and be vulnerable with us and we will support them. And maybe we can then allow ourselves to show that we can't do it all, and be it all every day. None of us can.

Being vulnerable is the gateway to greatness. It can be pretty scary, but the life you get to live on the other side is more than worth it.

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