Being vulnerable or to be yourself with all your imperfections. To find yourself good enough, instead of striving to be more successful, popular or prettier. Daring yourself to be more vulnerable is hard. It takes courage.
There is a famous TED talk about the power of vulnerability by Brené Brown. If you haven’t watched it yet, I truly recommend viewing it. I watched this somewhere in 2012, but other than that, I didn’t try to apply it to my own life.
Even though I already struggled at times worrying about what others thought of me and whether I was good enough. Wondering if I was doing my work right, if I was a good friend and if I did the right things. Instead of sharing these worries, I was pretending to be a stronger me. Thinking back I was more occupied with matching some ideal picture and trying to do it all, then to take into account how I was really feeling.
Suddenly it clicks
Although I didn’t try and change something then, I subconsciously took note of the power in being vulnerable. One year later I got into an accident and everything changed. While learning to live with brain injury, my insecurities also increased. Now I had a label and certain limitations. That ideal picture had gotten even more out of reach. Thankfully, I wasn’t constantly worrying about this. Though it did keep me up at nights when I had trouble falling asleep.
The worrying itself and trying to be a stronger version of yourself, takes a lot of energy. Which is why I caught myself thinking about vulnerability, and this talk in particularly, more often. Why wouldn’t I be happy with who I was? How much energy could I save, if I stopped pretending to be someone I’m not?
It was time to find my courage and to make some changes.
Starting this blog has helped a lot. Writing for me is a way to face my insecurities, emotions and doubts and to verbalize them. Making it easier to talk about them with others. Which doesn’t imply I’ve gotten the hang of being vulnerable, not even by a long shot.
By taking small steps, I’m trying to be more true to myself more often. This summer, I had one of those big revelations on the power of being vulnerable.
We all struggle
I was on holiday and had already spent two days with the same group of people. I hadn’t told them about my brain injury. I always find it hard to bring this up when meeting new people, which is why I rather avoid it all together.
We went into a supermarket to get some dinner. Supermarkets and I aren’t a good combination. It wasn’t before long, when I started getting overwhelmed. A panic attack was coming and I needed to leave the store as quickly as possible. Waiting outside, I realised this provided a golden opportunity to practise being vulnerable. Once everyone was outside, I decided to take a leap of faith. I tried to be as honest as possible about my brain injury and why I’d suddenly left the store. This resulted in a really open and honest conversation. I learned that even though we all looked ‘normal’, we all had faced tough and difficult times in our lives. It turned out that we all had an invisible disability, that influenced our lives.
This wasn’t the only open and honest conversation that holiday. A few days later, I had a similar realization. Sharing my imperfections, resulted in them sharing theirs. Once more I realized, that while it may seem that we have everything under control, we all face our own invisible struggles.
Daring to be vulnerable does pay off. First of all it feels liberating to be yourself. (Which made me realise how tiring pretending can be.) If you can embrace your imperfections instead of judging them, you can think more kindly about yourself. Hopefully, it also helps in getting to know each other better. To discover that we have far more in common than we think.
I’ll admit that I still find it a little daunting to be vulnerable, but I hope it will get easier over time.
Do you have a positive or negative experience with being vulnerable? Do you find it easy (or easier) to be honest with and about yourself? What do you struggle with?