Last week was the first step into a three-part deep-dive on the concept of connection. This week, I'd like to focus on what I consider the second layer to connection: vulnerability. It's a word -- a state of being -- that can evoke shudders simply by bringing it up. It means really being seen; not for the put-together version of yourself you may show the world -- rather, for all the bits, pieces, cracks, and faults you may possess. In all of those -- allowing yourself to be free, open, and raw -- the true beauty that is you stands out.
Vulnerability is not easy; I know it wasn't for me. I craved the idea of sinking into the background, especially in public settings, and becoming almost invisible. When engaged, I felt very uncomfortable about allowing other to see the "true" me, opting for a "tailored" version that didn't so much stray from the truth as it served to cover any flaws. I feared judgement. I feared ridicule. I feared being seen. And, to be quite honest, I'm not the only one who has felt this way. Vulnerability is such a sensitive topic because of its links to fear, and fear is one of, if not the largest, contributors to limitation in our lives. This is quite the conundrum, as to truly connect with someone, and especially yourself, you've got to embrace vulnerability.
The reason it's so crucial is because vulnerability invites elements like empathy, authenticity, truth, and courage to the fore. Not that you or I don't already embody those qualities in our daily lives, but when we embrace the state of vulnerability, there is nowhere to hide, and no cover or armor to defend ourselves from potential judgement. Letting down that figurative wall opens up truth to yourself and others that can be related to on a level deeper and more meaningful. Others can empathize with pain, fear, and difficulty you've experienced, and a point of connection can be made. You can prove to yourself that you're stronger and more courageous than you may believe, and better connect with your true and authentic self.
So, how does one take the steps to embrace vulnerability? As with many fears in our lives, the best strategy is to face it directly. It was scary to lay down my figurative armor and speak my truth; to let others see me for who I am, and what I believe. In learning to not only face my fears, but also let them go (along with letting go of my ego -- the psychological component that's damaged by societal judgement), I felt free; unburdened. The weight of that armor was no longer something I needed to carry with me, and any judgement I received, I let roll off my back. Stepping into my truth -- who I really am -- was so incredibly empowering, and served to ward off fear from returning. I still make constant gaffes and missteps, but I embrace them as part of me and my experience instead of shutting them away from the world, hoping someone didn't see what happened.
Vulnerability invites empathy, authenticity, courage, and more, and gives rise to the third, and most powerful level of connection: intimacy. When you become comfortable in your own skin, it becomes much easier for others to be comfortable with you as well. Sharing our true selves with the world allows others to glimpse more broadly into us, and deeper and more meaningful connection to take place. I welcome moments of vulnerability in my life because they truly let me embrace the strength, courage, and authenticity I most desire; I hope all of you can achieve that same feeling.