In any event, in this short NPR piece two things stuck out to me.
Embedded in vulnerability is an honest, raw bid for connection.This is a singularly critical thought for me. Several personal experiences in recent months and years have driven home to me the regrettable fact that I have lived my life mostly hiding my innermost desires to connect with the people around me. That I am reluctant to say to someone, let's go out for a conversation or to share with someone the simple fact that I enjoy, or think I might enjoy, their company. Fear of the potential shame in such an act is debilitating and powerful. More on this later.
At the same time, another comment resonated with so much of what I have been reflecting on.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.This was actually something of an aside in her talk; yet it was an aside that was important to me in the context of all that is at this moment. More on this later as well.
Struck by all of this, I went back to her original Ted talk, in which she shares her research into characteristics of people who are what she calls, whole hearted.
People who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. [...] These people had the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves. [...] They had connection as a result of authenticity."She then identifies four fundamentals of vulnerability.
To let ourselves be seen.At this point, this gets a little soft and fuzzy for me, but that's my journey. In any event, the thing that I want to really focus on today, at this moment, is the first of these fundamentals, "To Let Ourselves Be Seen." I wonder about the implications of this, and the way that it should and might live in a well lived life. It's not just a matter of telling everyone everything that happens. Sharing on facebook the details of my colonoscopy is not vulnerability, it's just TMI. Also, vulnerability focuses on how we open ourselves to the people we care about as well as how we allow ourselves to be perceived as imperfect.
To love with our whole hearts.
To practice gratitude and joy.
To believe that we are enough.
When I think about my recent summer journey, I think about what I wanted to share from it and what the purpose of that sharing was. As a friend observed, my blog was mostly the narrative of travel experiences, rather than a deeper reflection on the transition that I was undergoing at a much deeper level. Still, that reflection was most certainly going on, and I desired to share it with whoever might be inclined to read about it; yet I was restrained by fear of shame stemming from the audacity of presumption. Who was I to tell others about my fears and needs? Why should they care, or worse still, how arrogant would they think I was for thinking anyone might care? God forbid I should appear arrogant. How much more interesting it seemed to simply share the amazing sensations of my travels of 12,000 miles.
But some of that reflection is packed into those journal entries, and the task at hand, which has been happening on a level that is slowly bubbling up into my consciousness, is to continue to learn to become more immediately and habitually vulnerable to the people around me each day.
I pause to consider my own list of what is required to be vulnerable.
- To ask for help when it is needed.
- To be willing to practice skills that are undeveloped without fearing ridicule.
- To share a desire to make a social connection without waiting for the right moment.
- To recognize that my value comes not from being the best, but from being present.