I’m reading much more lately on topics of spirituality, self-improvement, mindfulness, awareness, and growth. I’ve always believed us to be spiritual beings having a physical experience, so these subjects have come up repeatedly in my life, as far back as childhood. From about the age of nine, I’ve felt this persistent presence just outside my awareness; something calling to me, because it wants to be found. I’d have a kind of spiritual awakening (a sudden, overwhelming sense of peace and love, or intense deja vu, even an out-of-body experience), and for a time after each of these, it seemed I drew closer to that mysterious presence. But, old habits and patterns of thinking, feeling, and reacting always brought me back to the same frustrating, disconnected place.
I’ve since discovered a few authors whose works have clicked with me, and life is coming into focus. I find these authors’ words echoed things I’ve sensed intuitively but was unable to make coherent: happiness and fulfillment are only possible when we follow our nature. Being real in a world that values appearance over substance is scary, but it is the only way to find peace and contentment with our choices.
A joyful life demands we be vulnerable.
The first act of vulnerability is in getting completely honest with ourselves; in acknowledging and owning who we are, warts and all. This is an uncomfortable process at first; we don’t like looking at the ‘dark’ or ‘ugly’ or non-conforming parts of ourselves. But facing our internal reality is the only way we can begin to experience self-acceptance, and the self-love needed to heal the parts we’ve felt driven to hide. As we improve and feel more whole, we become capable of the second act of vulnerability, which is revealing our true selves to others.
This revelation is not intended to be a dramatic over-sharing (it isn’t achieved via a post on social media, nor is it a result of ‘letting it all hang out’). Rather, it takes place when we allow those who’ve earned the right, to see us as we are. It is doing the work of taking off masks, breaking down walls and disarming landmines. It is the shedding of every inauthentic layer of self, accumulated to minimize adversity and pain, to reveal your unique glory.
When we are willing to be vulnerable – to stand up and risk being ‘seen’ (and therefore subject to criticism, judgment, discrimination, even persecution), we create space for others to do so, as well.
Through vulnerability, we inspire one another to deeper levels of truth, personal strength, and authentic living. Through vulnerability, we lead by example.
Embrace vulnerability. You never know who might be watching.