“I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, “Kiss me harder,” and “You’re a good person,” and, “You brighten my day.”
Because one day, we might be hit by a bus.
There is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.
And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.
We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.
We never know when the bus is coming.”
-Rachel C Lewis
There are certain combinations that we must navigate carefully in this world — we usually learn the hard way. Parents and 18th birthday speeches is one. Friends and money-lending situations is another. Alcohol and work functions, too (please don’t listen to your drunk brain telling you now is a good time to tell your boss how much you respect them).
But there’s another big one no one seems to talk about. And that is vulnerability and shame. When you make an impassioned, impromptu debate about something close to your heart, or send a ballsy text, or make a post for the world to see, or have an insanely deep conversation with someone on the wrong side of midnight. It feels good and real and right at the time but the next day for some reason you’re finding yourself feeling sick, achy, tender and full of all the regrets when you never so much as had a drink the night before.
Logically, we all understand that no one actually really cares how much of a fool we’re making of ourselves, because they’re too busy trying not to look like fools themselves. But sometimes we still have this weird teenager-in-high-school feeling where, if we put a foot outside the norm, we’ll be blown to pieces. If we put something out there that is so inherently dear and emotionally tied to us and it gets shot down, we’ll be ruined. Vulnerability is not so much shied away from as avoided like the plague. And sometimes when we show it we feel just a bit weirded out after, and maybe slightly ashamed.
So, how can you live life raw without letting the world steamroll right through you in the process? Build up some shame resilience, baby!
Shame expert Brene Brown (if you haven’t watched her TED Talk, I urge you to do so) explains that our self-worth is tied up in our stories, so when our stories, thoughts, opinions, doubts, anxieties, dreams, get put out for the world to see and judge, it can make for a scary time. Her solution to making sure we never find ourselves with a serious case of vulnerability hangover? Do not put something out into the world if your healing is dependent on someone else’s response. We can not control or predict how others will respond, putting that kind of power into shaky hands is, in Brown’s words, “not giving and generous to the people hearing it. And it’s really abusive to yourself.”
Brown says if we put something close to our hearts out into the world when we’re still tender and ashamed about it and someone ignores it or even goes “you should be ashamed, you’re right, that’s a real shit-show you did back there. You suck.” We’ll be devastated. So what you have to do, she says, is process and work through your stories yourself beforehand. Then, when you throw the goodness out there, you have to just stand in the middle of your truth and proudly own it in all its raw, achy imperfection. Because to you, it does not matter where the pieces fall. In this case if you get a “meh,” “you suck,” or “settle down” response, you have neutrality. It really doesn’t matter. You’re just like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Better to be living life raw than scared in a corner.
If I’d once listened to the guy who told me I “give too much away” in my writing, you most certainly wouldn’t be reading this. It would have been so easy to take that kind of feedback to heart and start questioning – was I too open? Too loud? Not girly and mysterious enough? Did I overstep the agreed upon quota of acceptable daily output of emotion? If I didn’t have a healthy relationship with my vulnerability at that point I might have retreated back into my seventeen-year-old self, shyly drip-feeding my personal stories into the world with restraint and anxiety. But instead I found myself thinking screw that. Screw that. To build the life of abundance I want it can’t be through living by halves. And that requires being vulnerable.
“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage”
– Brene Brown
Step one, own your vulnerability. Don’t tell it you hate it and it should be ashamed of itself and to go away. Own it, get to know it, make it your friend, and tell it you love it no matter what anyone in the world thinks of it. Then once it’s protected, get out in the sun and f-l-e-x its magic-attracting goodness. Be confident enough to say: Hey, this is how I am feeling right now, and I felt like sharing it. Period.
Whatever happens next, isn’t in your control. There is no right or wrong way to feel, and therefore we need to fully embrace the hundred of different shades that define our being. Vulnerability is no weakness. It’s actually about having the courage to feel it all. It’s about having the courage to be authentic.
By Caitlin Creeper