Like most people, I’ve struggled at points in my life with letting my whole self shine. My discomfort with revealing insecurities, like not always having the answer and being the only person in a conversation who is clueless on what everyone else is talking about, comes from that place. When the vulnerability of revealing all of who you are confronts you, how often have you imagined people sneering, laughing, making jokes or saying mean things behind your back? You’ve probably been haunted a time or two by the guy from Mean Girls calling you out, “You don’t even go here!”
Flashback to when I was 19 years old. My friends surprised me with a 2-day class at the DC Improv Comedy Club (taught by ex-SNL writer and founder of the People’s Improv Theatre, Ali Farahnakian). Yes! This was my ticket to the SNL stage because its just that easy, right?
So wrong. We started the class not by doing the fun sort of traditional improvisational exercises you’ve seen in high school drama class or on Whose Line is It Anyway?. Instead, we started by walking around a dark room, among an intimate group of total strangers, aged 18-65, shouting our deepest insecurities. “Ummmmmm… where are Amy Poehler and Tina Fey?” I thought. I could barely admit these things to myself, let alone to strangers.
PANIC! The class had nothing to do with being funny or making the conscious effort to rouse a few laughs. To my naive surprise, we instead focused on challenging comfort zones, practicing adaptability in the moment and renouncing our egos (sound familiar?).
By getting out of our comfort zones, being vulnerable, and working with what our partners threw at us, we were creating something unique and magical.
That class was more of a gift than I initially thought. I learned that you MUST be vulnerable to grow. You will neither face sudden death nor crumble into a ball of nothingness in the wake of vulnerability. Rather, vulnerability helps create a more fulfilling life through deeper connections, boosted confidence, creating learning opportunities, and growth through mental freedom. Easier said than done, but perfectly doable with practice.
Stop being a comfortable nobody and start being a vulnerable somebody. Why?
Vulnerability = Learning + Growth
You must acknowledge the place where you are right now and the person who you are at this point in your life, in order to grow towards your vision of your best self. Otherwise, much of your energy will be wasted on hiding your real self, rather than giving yourself space to be vulnerable and grow. If you continue to deny or hide the things about yourself that make you vulnerable, you will essentially continue to tell yourself a story about how “unworthy,” “unlikable,” “weird,” or “different” you are. Cue the never ending self-defeating thoughts and comparisons to others. You stop that right now, you mysterious creature of unique beauty, you!
Vulnerability = Deep Connection
Fruitful conversations and deep connections are cultivated when you come from a place of truth rather than speaking from a facade upheld by insecurity. When speaking from a totally-you place, quirks and all, you ignite your expressions with passion, and people are drawn to that. You can speak and give more energy to things that come from inside of you; that are a real part of who you are. Even if it’s hard to confront, you are doing yourself and the world a huge service in doing so.
Vulnerability = Love
To truly love and be loved, we must express our entire, whole, and true selves. This is because real love is a deep connection to all parts of a person, not just the pretty, easy, uncomplicated parts.
Robert Nozick, Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, writes in his essay Loves Bond, “To be englowed by someone’s love, it must be us who are loved, not a whitewashed version of ourselves, not just a portion. In the complete intimacy of love, a partner knows us as we are, fully. It’s no reassurance to be loved by someone ignorant of those traits and features we feel might make us unlovable.”
Life is messy and we are messy and isn’t that what makes it fun anyway?
Vulnerability = Mental Freedom
In an article entitled Authenticity, from the Singing Heart Yoga blog, yogi Jody Kessler asserts, “Everything will line up perfectly when knowing and living the truth becomes more important than looking good.”
We cannot become our best selves by becoming carbon copies of other people. The world needs you and all of who you really are. The world already has enough everybody elses. Jody continues, “We can’t really be at peace or fully alive if we are lying to ourselves, not being truthful with others, or otherwise ‘in the closet’ about who we really are. Our life force becomes impeded and depleted.”
Act from a place of honesty with yourself and begin to think of ways you can release that mental blockage and be the special person you truly are. Embrace vulnerability and start living a more loving, confident, connected life.
The world needs you!