The Power of Being Authentic, Open and Vulnerable
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” — Brené Brown
She abruptly took my hands in hers, looking deep into me with her piercing brown eyes. What I had said had just kind of popped out of me, an instinctive reflex to the very painful childhood trauma we had both had in common. She stared into to me with her penetrating gaze and said intently, “You need to write about this, to tell your story. You owe it to people.”
In that moment, I felt very naked before her, and it kind of overwhelmed me. I don’t usually discuss such things when I first meet a woman, and definitely not at a crowded coffee house on a warm sunny afternoon. I felt very connected with her, and I experienced an attraction that normally doesn’t come so quickly for me. We had shared a deeply intimate secret together. I later came to understand that it wasn’t real, but in moment I was completely lost in it. I revealed a deep part of me and I was completely vulnerable to her. I took a chance, and win or lose, it was worth it. I wrote the article as promised, and I never felt more free than when I saw it was helping people. I risked, I shared, I exposed my deepest pain and I grew more happy and contented in myself. I would do it again, wholeheartedly.
There are simply too many secrets that people carry with them their whole lives, burdening their own hearts with shame. The human is a social animal at its core, and we need a sense of belonging with others. Even the most isolated person will often still reach out via social media or online forums to find their place, their people — their tribe if you will. However, a sense of apprehension, worry about being judged and found unworthy, and the often paralyzing fear of being hurt closes people off to their own detriment.
A beautiful woman whom I’m blessed to know shared with me a TED talk by Dr. Brené Brown on The power of vulnerability, and I realized I very quickly had been living in the same way she described, but not necessarily for the same reasons. What was being explained to me as being courageous just resonated with me as being required, if I was to find love in my life. I could have almost given that talk, based on what I had come to terms with, in my pursuit of health, emotional strength and renewed life after the last decades of my very lonely life.
I am far from perfect. I have my own issues that I continue to try to address every day of my life. I have made mistakes that I wish I could erase, and yes, I’ve hurt people, usually by mistake or by being an oblivious person lost in my own nonsense. But I am worthy of being liked, of being loved and being respected. I own my own failings and work to fix them. More importantly, I know who I am and I love who I am. I spent a lifetime of hating myself, and despite the perverse pleasure that wallowing in self pity can bring, I prefer to accept that I am imperfect yet worthy of being loved.
The most important decision I’ve made in how to deal with others I encounter and know is that I will be authentic, open and vulnerable with them.
I have only one face to share with the world, and that is my own. If you are my friend, lover, coworker or a complete stranger, you will meet the same person. I have no energy for pretending to be someone I’m not. If I don’t know you, I may be cautious, but I will still be me. If you don’t like who I am, I will still be me. If you choose to love me, it will be the real me you love and not a protective facade.
I also know who I am and will share it openly. I am not defined by labels, whether I apply them to myself, or others do. If I don’t reveal who I am, how will anyone else know me? I am wise, but also foolish. I am intelligent, but also confused. I am strong parent, but also a scared child. I am loved, but also I love. I do accept one label for who I am, and who I try to be, I am wholehearted.
Lastly, but definitely not the least, I am vulnerable because I have to be. If I don’t take risks, how will I ever find who I’m looking for? If I care about you, I will tell you that I love you. I won’t wait for you to say it, I will say it and show it. I will invest time in relationships to see what they can grow into, without knowing the outcome. I will simply be who I am, share who I am, and expose my heart to others. How can others know who I am, if I refuse to reveal myself to them?
The funny thing is that this article isn’t about me, it’s about you — at least a you that could be. Almost nothing about the above five paragraphs is unique to myself, and most of it could apply to anyone. It is so easy to hide the beautiful person we are from everyone else, thinking there is something that needs to be concealed. It is also easier to look for others that are closed off and guarded, as it’s familiar but more often than not will just lead to further heartache. This isn’t some hard task to accomplish, as it just takes a single step. Being authentic, open and vulnerable builds its own momentum the moment to choose to be it. Fear of being rejected will keep you away from it, but to be rejected for who you really are? Why not be loved for who you are? Anyone that would reject the real you isn’t worthy of you. It’s not your worth at stake, but your happiness.
I am just one person, yet another wanderer, but not all who wander are lost. I know who I am, what I want and where I am going. I looked into my soul and found my own beauty, a beauty present in everyone for those willing to share it with the world.
Show the world who you really are. Show the world what an amazing, beautiful and completely worthy of love person you are. Let your true heart be seen, and love others with your whole heart.
I promise you are worth it.