When I first started this life talks series back in August, this was the very first topic I thought of. It’s something I used to be horrible at, and something I learned the hard way (which is pretty much how I’ve learned everything my whole life!) is important and necessary to happiness and a fulfilled life.
What is vulnerability?
The dictionary defines it as: the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
The bigger question is, why on earth would anyone want to be vulnerable if it means exposing yourself to the potential for harm?
The answer: because it is impossible to meet goals, achieve accomplishments, build meaningful relationships, or feel truly happy and fulfilled without it.
Allow me to explain with an example.
You just found a listing for your dream job. It’s the job you’ve always wanted, with a fantastic company, and you can’t believe this opportunity is in front of you. Of course you jump on it! You apply, submit your resume and cover letter, and then sit back and wait to be called for an interview. You wait anxiously for the call, and when you get it, you’re ecstatic! You are going to interview for your dream job! But then a new reality hits you–there isn’t a guarantee that you will get it.
This is where vulnerability comes into play. You don’t know if you have what they are looking for. You don’t know if you have enough experience or if you are qualified. You realize that by going into that interview, you are opening yourself up to being judged and evaluated by a potential employer. You are opening yourself up to rejection and disappointment. Maybe landing this dream job is a long shot, and you’re afraid of being shot down.
That fear and uncertainty you are feeling–that is what holds you back. That is what attempts to pull you away from taking a chance at going after something you want, and tries to pull you backward into your comfort zone; back to where it’s safe. And if you let that fear win, you will never take the chance, you will never put yourself out there…and you will never get that dream job. Because you can’t have something if you don’t at least take a chance and try.
That is what vulnerability is all about. Yes, being vulnerable means exposing yourself to harm; to disappointment, hurt, sadness, rejection. BUT—it also means that you are exposing yourself to the possibility of having everything you want. It means exposing yourself to the possibility of meeting your goals, achieving your accomplishments, and building relationships. Being vulnerable means that you just might get whatever it is that will make you happy beyond measure.
The opposite of vulnerability is fear. If you let fear guide you, you will lose every time. And if you allow yourself to be vulnerable; if you take a chance and put yourself out there, raw and exposed, and you get rejected? Well, that’s going to suck. But I’ll tell you a secret–you will get over it. I promise you that the disappointment you feel will not last forever. As a matter of fact, you will be surprised at how soon you look back on it and think “wow, I was brave enough to put myself out there and take a chance. I’m proud of myself.” And that feeling of empowerment will ultimately propel you forward.
It is my belief that being vulnerable is the number one key to success in anything. Taking chances. Letting people see you for who you really are; your true, authentic self. Going after the things that you want. Inviting people into your life fully and completely. It won’t always go the way you want it to and you will absolutely come face-to-face with rejection. But if you keep right on trucking and right on being vulnerable and taking those chances, you will eventually get what you want. If you hide out in fear because you took a chance one time and failed? Well, then you are guaranteed to never get what you are hoping for.
Vulnerability. The most powerful thing you will ever do.