I can't think of anything more terrifying than being vulnerable. To put it quite frank, vulnerability sucks. Who likes the feeling of being completely, and utterly exposed? Who wants to put their emotional susceptibility on full display for others to rummage through and find weak links... loopholes that could parade around our deepest insecurities.
I get it. I found ways to deflect vulnerability for years. I encased myself in an emotional armour. I taught myself how to divert feelings, emotions, thoughts and behaviours. I used my lack of vulnerability as my own personal weapon, and it was powerful.
I look back now at what I thought was the most ill defining aspect of my life, and I shudder at the 13 year old perspective of myself. My kryptonite was my own insecurity, my fear of not being good enough for myself. It infuriates me that I spent so many years of my life hiding me, and emitting this false sense of identity. I was afraid to be vulnerable with myself because I was afraid that I wouldn't like what I saw. I was afraid that other people wouldn't like who I was.
I grew up wanting people to like me. Don't get me wrong, my parents never once told me that I needed to be well liked by everyone I met. This is just something that I had been hardwired with. I was a Type A Personality People Pleaser. This persona that I embraced as a young child never manifested into much until I started struggling with my Neurofibromatosis diagnosis. I had been this so called "normal" person for the first 13 years of my life, and I felt like the diagnosis was slowly taking away my life, leaching the person who I wanted to be right out of me. I didn't understand how I could be this extraordinary people pleaser with a brain tumour growing rampid in my skull, or tumours that could decide at any point to wreak havoc in my body. Doctors appointments, medications, tests, lab results.... this is who I thought I had to be. I thought I had to be a diagnosis.
Although I thought I used my emotions as a shield, it really turns out that I became everything I never wanted to be. I was my anger. I was my resentment. I was this bitter child who ran from vulnerability, and ended up a miserable ball of goo (pretty picture hey?). I wasn't the happy ray of sunshine that I once was. I wasn't the happy go lucky girl that people had grown to know. I wasn't me anymore. My fear of vulnerability took away my will to be myself.
Eventually, I decided I was sick of it. I was absolutely exhausted running from me. So, slowly, and ever so painfully I began to slowly peel off the emotional armour. Piece by piece. I put my weapon away. I was tired of being seen, and not heard. I wanted me, and all of me to be seen.
You see, I learned something during the beginning stages of my transformation. Vulnerability and pain are very much similar, in that they are both designed to be felt. Vulnerability, I learned, was not all that bad. I remember stumbling across this quote, and it has resonated with me for several years:
"What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful" - Brene Brown
I realized, that what I was most afraid of, was what made me beautiful. I was different, but that difference could be used as a catalyst for change. Instead of waking up everyday and putting on my emotional armour, I put on an armour of courage and resiliency. I internally accepted the fact that my inner "Type A Personality People Pleaser" might experience some discomfort during the process of self realization, but that self-growth needed to occur if I wanted to go anywhere in life.
Today, I still struggle with the aspect of vulnerability, but instead of running for the hills when I am confronted with it, I open my arms to the possibilities it may bring. Every time I post a blog, I am vulnerable. Every time I get up in front of a crowd and speak about my life, I am vulnerable. Every time I speak my mind... guess what, I AM VULNERABLE.
Now that I have likely bored you with all this talk about vulnerability and what it means to me, how its changed my life and so on, you might be wondering:
"Courtney, how can I be vulnerable."
The answer my friends, is quite simple. All you have to do it be courageous. Vulnerability follows in the footsteps of courage. I am going to leave you all now with yet another quote by the fabulous Brene Brown, and I hope this resonates with you:
"Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves...are we will to show up and be seen?"