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It’s a typical day as I make my way up to the podium, prepared to look out over a sea of eyes and imagine them wearing swimsuits at a party (you see I simply can’t picture people naked to help ease my discomfort) but as I begin to speak I look down only to realize that I myself have no clothes on. I survey the room for an escape route, but alas it was all just a dream…
Vulnerability has historically not been my strong suit. It’s no wonder. In order to be vulnerable, you have to love ALL the parts of you. That’s the key to being vulnerable that no one tells you about. Being vulnerable is not just about showing the parts of you that are beautiful, happy, and excited. It’s about revealing what you deny or keep hidden from other people. We all do this to some extent.
I’ve always been proud of being strong, wearing it like a badge of amour. I’ve always had to be strong and somewhere along the way I noticed that I viewed exposure as a weakness. The interesting part is that in my everyday life, people don’t know this. I am seen as someone who is quite open and outgoing. Very social and not superficial. But I had compartmentalized a good portion of my life.
Psychology defines compartmentalization as a defense mechanism, or a coping strategy, which doesn’t impart a very good connotation. Put simply, it’s how our mind deals with conflicting internal standpoints simultaneously. Isolating and focusing on difficult issues separately is something I’ve used my entire life. I now recognize that this was my way of getting through trauma as a result of my upbringing.
When my boyfriend of 11 years passed away, he was only 38, I looked around and realized that I had segmented my life; I socialized in various circles of friends (none of which had met or interacted with each other), I was the leader at work, I had my role and responsibilities at home, but all of these were separate.
Through my effort to connect to the divine source I’ve learned that very few people truly know half of who I am. I’ve been guarded and I don’t break easily; no matter how close I am to people. Most of them had been kept at a distance that is comfortable, a distance that wouldn’t leave me exposed. I did not like to be vulnerable. I wanted to feel in control of situations, I liked the feeling (aka illusion) that I was secure and vulnerability got in the way of that.
In my attempt to not be vulnerable, I have ultimately been motivated by fear. I have lived with that fear and I managed to hold it all together by compartmentalizing my life. The truth is my voice has a powerful need to share that which is overshadowing my fear of being exposed. I have faith that with vulnerability, you experience true connection — true love for yourself — and you begin to attract people to you who are inspired by your openness. While it’s not easy to be vulnerable, you’d be surprised how loving all of you and then sharing it with another can help you to connect with anyone.
There was a flawed perspective in my past thinking. I thought that vulnerability was the weaker position, but I’ve realized that being vulnerable and being exposed actually makes you whole. Surrendering and relaxing into the flow of life. Allowing yourself to be seen for all that you are and finding comfort – that is NOT weak, that is pure strength. When you put your heart on the line, and expose ALL of who you are and what your truth is to somebody – that is one of the truest strengths that there is.
Vulnerability won’t be easy and it might even turn your world upside down for a bit. But I’m convinced that to have caged heart is not any better off. Loving anyone can come with hurt, but in the attempt to not let people get close enough, it creates a different kind of pain, a different kind of weakness – the weakness of regret and wonder. Today, if I am to be truly strong, if any of us are, we have to be willing to expose ourselves and put ourselves through the greatest risk of all – which is unconditional love.
Grimes, Angie. “Feeling Vunerable and Exposed” Hope Is Now, October 18: 36-38. Print.