The Art of Vulnerability
In a world where much of our human interaction happens on social media, we have become used to the concept of "oversharing." People feel now, more than ever, emboldened to speak their mind with little to no fear of consequences. It's not uncommon for the general rule of thumb, "no religion or politics," to fly right out the window when having virtual conversations. Want to know my take on it?
I say no conversations should be "off limits." Now don't get me wrong... I know you're screaming on the other side of the screen, saying, "But what about those Keyboard Warriors and Trolls who go around making everyone's lives miserable?!" Yeah, you're right. They exist, and are likely the same jerky people who cut you off on the highway. But I believe they are the exception and not the rule. They do not need to dominate the conversation.
Here's what I believe, deeply, about the opportunities we have when it comes to sharing our personal stories. I believe in the art of vulnerability, the delicate dance of choosing what to share, when, and with whom. Not everyone deserves to hear every single story of yours and not every story needs to be told. For example, you and your partner may choose to keep your intimate relationship private and that's perfectly okay. You may also decide you don't care to share with the world what you had for lunch, and that's also just fine. The thing is, we all have that choice and need to be conscious of what could happen, should we choose to share a particular story. There are always pros and cons to weigh. Let me share a personal example:
When my parents died within 22 months of each other, I was devastated to say the very least. There is not a word in the dictionary to explain the incredible aching feeling within my heart (yes, it actually felt bruised and would beat abnormally). The depression weighed on me like a backpack full of bricks and I physically began to gain weight uncontrollably. The way I shared my story and what I was experiencing varied depending on whom I was talking to. When I bumped into people in person, I would say something along the lines of, "I'm doing okay, focusing on the good memories." I would leave out the part that I had severe PTSD and couldn't shake the nightmare of watching my mom take her last breath... that I still can't even drive on the same street that the hospital is on... that the idea of seeing my grandparents vividly reminds me of the night I found my dad lying lifeless and intubated on the floor... that holidays bring about panic attacks and desire for isolation or escape. But with a very select few people, my cousin Jenny, my husband, a few incredible friends, I bared my whole truth. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I told my story, to them, in a way that has allowed me to heal.
Now, several years later, I choose to expand my inner circle and talk openly (and more honestly) about my losses, my chronic health concerns, and my biggest, scariest goals in business and in life. Why? I choose to share because I know, deep down, that my voice can help others. I know that I may not be able to take away anyone's pain or loss, but I can be there to listen. I can be there to let others know they are not alone.
I choose to be vulnerable and tell my truth so that I can have a positive impact on the lives of others. This is why I am alive. This is my purpose.