Sometimes we fall into thinking that vulnerability is about sharing our pain, our problems, our tears, our fears, our self-doubts. That is only part of the story.
As Brene Brown has so beautifully woken us up to, vulnerability is sharing what’s true for me even when I fear you will like me less after you know x about me. It’s trusting I can show up as who I really am and that doing so will bring connection, not abandonment, acceptance, not rejection.
Since reading Brene Brown’s work, I’ve put my attention on doing more of what feels vulnerable — expressing my love for someone when it feels risky, making a request when I feel vulnerable to being perceived as selfish or demanding, collaborating with others in ways that feel, for me, very vulnerable, tender, messy. But I’ve noticed that my edge right now – when it comes to vulnerability – is the edge of joy. How much joy am I willing to share? And how much success? And in particular, how much I am comfortable talking about that stuff with the other women in my life?
For women, in particular, because we’ve been trained to not brag, to tone down our light, being vulnerable comes from sharing our happiness – not just from sharing our pain. It’s vulnerable for many reasons. One is because as women we’ve certainly seen again and again that the strongest, the most beautiful, the most empowered women – well, they don’t exactly draw universal love. And it’s vulnerable because, as my friend Lianne Raymond said in a discussion about this, many times we believe our connection to the people in our lives is based on sameness, on what we have in common. So we fear: “If I’m feeling so jazzed about area x of my life and right now area x is your struggle, if I share my happiness will you stay? Will you love me as much? And if I share my happiness am I being rude, or hurtful, or unsympathetic?”
I got thinking about this when I was hearing about a women’s group that a few people I know are a part of. They share about their lives, and there is, I get the sense, a lot of brave sharing about the struggle. They all support each other in speaking up about the hard stuff, and it made me wonder, would they celebrate and feel as close to the woman who shared her joy? Who shared about the areas of her life that are working?
It is vulnerable to share it when your marriage is falling apart, yes, but in a circle of women I think it’s also vulnerable to share the bliss of feeling beloved by an amazing partner. It’s vulnerable to share dark family secrets, but in our culture I’d argue it’s damn vulnerable to also share – truly share – the ways you got solid, reliable love and care from your parents. It’s vulnerable to share it if you are struggling with an eating disorder and it’s vulnerable to share you’ve just always loved your body as it is.
I want to open up this conversation here, to hear your thoughts – about the vulnerability of sharing our joys and successes, about how women do and don’t support each other in that, and about what I see as a major edge for women in our time, personally and collectively: basking in the light. Yes, I’m talking basking ladies. I have the distinct sense that our basking will have revolutionary effects. But we must allow it in each other for it to occur.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments.
Two more notes:
1. I will be in Los Angeles during the first week of March. If your company or group would like to host a speaking event or workshop, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of my team will get back to you to explore the possibility.
2. My Playing Big program for women who want to *stop* playing small is opening up for registration in March. Want to get the details and get access to early bird discounts? Sign up for the advance notification list HERE.