Sunday, June 23, 2013

Episode Six: Vulnerability

Recently, I declared this summer to be my "summer of vulnerability."

"Why, Jamie, would you have to declare something like that" you might ask. "Why would one have to declare a season for being vulnerable?  Isn't it just a natural part of the human experience?"

Perhaps, for some, being vulnerable is a part of the everyday, the coming and going of life, a part of what they inherently do. 

Perhaps for some, but not for me.

Because, dear friends, it's time for some truth telling on my part, time to share what I spend approximately 89.7% of my life trying to hide (the other 10.3% of the time, I'm probably thinking about good beer or quality chocolate).



The truth (please note the radical vulnerability that's happening here and congratulate me when appropriate) is that I am deeply insecure.  My biggest fear is that I am simply not enough.  My second biggest fear is that when people see me--when they really see me--they will somehow observe my not-enoughness and instantly translate that as unloveableness, as a lack of worth. This fear of not-enoughness makes vulnerability difficult.  What If I reveal something about myself to you and you decide you don't like it? What if I offer you a piece of me and it's rejected? I can't think of anything more terrifying.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only one among us who suffers from this fear of not-enoughness, this fear of inadequacy, this fear that somehow, if people saw us, they would find us inherently lacking.  And so, the "summer of vulnerability" was born.

My goal this summer: "to let myself be deeply seen, to love with my whole heart (even though there's no guarantee), to practice joy and gratitude in moments of terror and to remember," (see amazing TED talk from Brene Brown below), to remember that in those moments when I am feeling most excruciatingly vulnerable, that the aching in my chest, the sweatiness of my palms, the anxious racing of my heart, simply means that I am alive--100% alive and engaged in the practice of living with great intentionality.

Because surely there are more of us out there--more folks who are slow to open themselves up, hesitant to make themselves vulnerable, because deep in their core they doubt their own worthiness.  They fear rejection.  Surely I am not the only one.

So will you join me dear ones? Join me in a summer of radical discomfort and awkward pauses?  Weeks of opening yourself up and risking rejection? Days of expressing love and appreciation without any guarantee that it will be returned?

Try a "vulnerability experiment" on for size today. A few of your options:
  • tell someone you hardly know that you think they're pretty great, complimenting an aspect of that person that you deeply admire but are perhaps afraid to share
  • share a deep insecurity you've always tried to hide with a friend (not a particularly close friend, just someone you know and like), 
  • offer a genuine compliment to a co-worker or colleague without any expectation that they will offer you affirmation in return
And if, in your vulnerability experiment, the sharing or revealing feels dangerous and invigorating and chilling all at the same time, if you're scared out of your mind but also incredibly excited to be living with a little more boldness, sign up for this summer of vulnerability with me. Let's risk it all and go for broke.

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