“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.”
– Brené Brown
Vulnerability is basically uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think it’s tough to show up. We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it.
My Philippine friend told me about her personal experiences.
As for my own experience I become vulnerable when it comes to my family. For me family is my everything, my reason to live, the reason to work hard and my inspiration to keep on doing my best. Let me tell you a little story. There was this one moment in my life when I was in college and got a lot of things going on the University, things like attending a seminar workshop for a specific subject, due of payment of the remaining balance of my tuition fee and the upcoming final examination for the semester. It was my third year and I’m 17 years old, about to turn 18 by that time. My father is a farmer and a construction worker as a part-time job which is in this country they have a low-income, my mom is a housewife, my brother works at the university as an instructor, not a professor yet because he is still earning his master’s degree by that time. I consult every financial needs to my parents. Imagine the stress that they feel back then. It was four o’clock in the morning, my mother’s awake and drinking her coffee. I just woke up and saw her holding her mug with a hot coffee and she is looking out to nowhere. I can see it in her eyes that she’s having a lot of thoughts. She might be thinking about our financial problems. I’m actually feeling sorry for her that time. Life is giving us a hard time. I don’t consider our family as poor, I don’t want to perceive our social status that way, maybe more of like in between the lower class and middle class. Were just not lucky to be in a wealthy family. I always thought that life is hard and life is unfair but whenever my mother tells me that she can take care of my needs, I always remind myself that my mother’s life is harder and I shouldn’t complain. My mother is a strong woman, I saw how life challenged her and she conquered every challenges that comes her way. I am a crybaby which is the exact opposite of her, I only saw her cry once, which was when my grandma died and that is very understandable. Life must be hard but I know I have a strong woman by my side.
I grew up implanting in my mind that once I graduate, I will help my family no matter what. They say that one of the toxic Filipino culture is for parents to ask financial assistance to their children when they graduate in college or when they already have their diploma, but for me it’s not, some people may look at it that way but for me it’s about giving back and providing them what they deserve. I actually never felt the poverty in our family. That’s because my parents taught me to be contented on what we have. I remember one time when I ask my father to buy me the books that I needed at school but they say they can’t afford it, I cried so hard that night thinking how am I supposed to study without a textbook? But then I’m not the only student in our school who can’t afford to have their own textbook, so what we did is we borrowed a book from our classmate then we produce our own copy to the photocopy machine. See what just happened there? There will always be a way to do things.
I’m also grateful to my brother who also supported me when I was in college. He is the one who’s providing me my allowance back then and he also bought me my own laptop. As for our social status, buying a laptop can totally affect us financially since it’s a bit pricey. Maybe it’s not a big deal for those people who are in the upper class but for us it’s already expensive. That laptop helped me a lot in my studies even though the specs are not that high, the important thing is I was able to perform a lot of tasks using the laptop that my brother bought. Some people might think it’s a simple gadget but it have a sentimental value to me now.
Our family has been through a lot of challenges in life but we are overcoming it little by little, especially now that I have my full-time job and can give financial support to my parents. I may not be earning a lot but I’ve got plans and I know I can succeed. But making my family happy is already a great success. I actually want to give them more. My dream is to give them a decent house and I’m planning to do it by next year. I want to give them what they deserve and that is to live without worries. My family is my weakness, but they are also my strength, they are my motivation to get up every day and face another challenge in life.
This story is just an example of how vulnerable I am, not just me, but every individual who has their own story and we know that all of us is vulnerable.
Connection is why we’re here, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Just like my relationship with my family, they are the ones I’m deeply connected with. We’re born into the world from parents and are accompanied by siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. It’s those people that we form our first real connections with. As we get older and are introduced to the world outside of our families, we create more bonds in the form of friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, and husbands/ wives to further affirm that the concept of belonging is ingrained into our DNA.
We need to become more self-aware and explore our emotions, asking questions to get in touch with how we’re feeling and thinking in a given moment. Vulnerability is anything but weakness. In fact, it takes true strength and courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable. The good part about it, is the gifts we unlock by being willing to be vulnerable far outweigh the difficulty in doing so. By having the courage to be vulnerable and open up to ourselves and the world around us we come directly in touch with our most authentic self. And, in doing so, can live a much more fulfilling and happier life.
In everything that we do, fear and criticism will always be there to greet us. Fear is the great restrictive force, as it stops most people from ever stepping more than one foot outside their comfort zone towards realizing their true desires. Because fear and criticism will always be there in some form, the best course of action is always to show up anyway and move forward. No matter what you’re doing, show up every day to do what you were meant to do and don’t let these hindrances stop you. The more you stand up to these negative forces, the more you’ll flex your courage and resilience and come out stronger for it.
One of the most important lesson is that you must dare to be yourself at whatever the cost. The forces of fear, insecurity, and doubt will never go away no matter how hard you try to avoid, hide from, or attempt to bury them. Instead, face them with courage and confidence in your authentic self and know that you’ve been given the gifts necessary to overcome whatever is in front of you. Dare to be yourself in all your glory your strengths, skills, and beauty as well as your flaws and insecurities. In doing so, you can realize true strength of spirit.
From a young age, perfection is something we’re taught is attainable if you try hard enough. Perfecting a sport will get you the scholarship of your dreams, perfecting your body will attract the right partner. We idealize the concept of being perfect, but we’re almost never taught that it’s not realistic.
“We perfect our children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. When you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, ‘Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect, to make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.’ That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say you know what, you’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that and I think we’ll end the problems we see today.” — Brené Brown
I’ll leave you with one of Brown’s final quotes that made vulnerability appear less terrifying.
“Let ourselves be seen. Deeply seen. Vulnerably seen. To love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee. Practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, where we’re wondering, ‘Can I love you this much?’, ‘Can I believe in this this passionately?’, ‘Can I be this fierce about this? Just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen to say, ‘I’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive’.
Believe that you are enough. When we work from a place that says we’re enough, then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.” — Brené Brown
Vulnerability is an immense asset, and yet our current values and ideals in society portray it as undesirable and dangerous to our well-being. In reality, the opposite is true: our vulnerability empowers us to love deeper and grow stronger.