I had a conversation with one of my closest friends today about vulnerability. It seems that we are both at a point where being as open and honest in our social interactions and life, in general, is of primary importance.
I’ve spent the majority of my life mastering the art of people-pleasing. It’s my nature to want to please everyone around me. That in itself I see as a very innocent and well-intentioned quality. But what that usually leads to is creating a facade that will be pleasing to whoever I happen to be around. I think that this sometimes gives people the impression that I don’t ever have struggles or emotions. Why is this a problem?
Passion or platitudes?
I’m at a point now where if I’m spending time with someone I want to have real conversations that ignite something of worth in each of us rather than just a polite exchange of platitudes. I’m sure you’ve had experiences where you’re speaking to someone, and the conversation is thrilling and lights you up in all sorts of ways. That’s what I’m ready for now. Usually having these sorts of conversations involves stepping beyond the comfort zone that the false facade provides and sharing something a little more personal. That requires a degree of vulnerability.
Despite popular belief, I’m not a robot.
I think the fact that I’m an introvert to the max makes it all the more important for me to open up more and let others know that beneath the stoic Spock-like surface of logic and reason there is something going on emotionally. Being vulnerable enough to share what I’m feeling lets people know that I’m human after all and that I go through all of the same struggles everyone else does. A simple way I’ve started exercising this is by letting people know how much I appreciate them and their role in my life.
The fear of rejection
Apart from wanting others to feel comfortable around me, there’s another reason I don’t let people see my true self. If you don’t know the real me, then your rejection won’t hurt as much. But what do I really gain from that? Shielding myself from any external rejection also means I’m not capable of having true, honest and intimate relationships. In order to truly connect with others that wall has to be torn down.
Vulnerability is a prerequisite to authentic Creativity
Because creativity is my life, It’s essential that I embrace vulnerability. Creativity is self-expression and if I’m going to create in the most authentic way and share that with the world I have no choice but to be vulnerable. For example, a little over a year ago I made the transition from a musician playing cover songs for money to devoting myself fully to my own creative endeavors. I knew that I wanted to be someone who uplifts others in some way. The first step I took in this direction was posting my thoughts and any quotes I found had inspired me on social media. I was surprised how apprehensive I was to posting positive quotes online. I was afraid that people would judge me harshly for posting trite or overused aphorisms. Even though what I was sharing was always met with a positive response there were many times at the beginning where I sat seized with indecision about posting something and just imagined what others were going to think of what I had to say. “Cheesy.” “Get real.” “Who do you think you are, Oprah?” These fears only subsided when I realized that firstly that wasn’t the response I was getting at all and more importantly that those people who may derive some comfort from the things I post are far more important to me than anyone who would use it as an opportunity to put me down.
This blog itself is a step towards greater vulnerability and honesty. It’s more comfortable for me to not write from a first person point of view at all. I’d rather pretend I’m infallible and have it all figured out. But not only is that laughably untrue it doesn’t help anyone either.
To conclude I’ll leave you with this quote that has become quite popular when speaking about this topic. And rightly so.
“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who’s actually in the arena. Whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly but comes up short again and again. Who in the end may know the triumph of high achievement but when he fails he does so daring greatly.” - Theodore Roosevelt