Vulnerability is a fascinating thing, but most people are too afraid of it to ever reap the benefits.
If someone has the self-awareness and the guts to identify their own vulnerabilities, it’s usually only in their own mind and maybe in their journal, or whispered to their best fried or significant other. And even then, barely. At least I know that’s the case for me. I’m afraid and uncomfortable even recognizing, not to mention opening up about, my vulnerabilities.
Recognizing my weaknesses and insecurities makes me want to turn and walk really quickly in the opposite direction before anyone even sees me near them.
“I procrastinate too much. My photos aren’t as good as they could be. I’m not in as good of shape as I should be. I’m late to things. I have a hard time not being extreme when it comes to ideologies. I can be obsessive at times and neglect other, important things. I’m not great at communicating my frustrations until it’s too late. Sometimes, I’m lazy. I’m not busy enough. I’m too busy.”
Whether they are true, or whether they are lies I believe about myself and what my life should look like, these vulnerabilities scare me. I’m afraid to admit or even own up to them because I’ve told myself that any single one of these failure-prone areas of mine might mean my demise in the eyes of other people – as a professional, friend, or moderately cool human being. And actually, I’m completely right. The way that any one person views another person is dependent on so many, intricate, fragile, and often stupid assumptions and variables. This is why other people’s opinions about us cannot determine our worth.
The truth is that if any facet of who I am has (or even appears to have) a flaw, I could lose someone’s respect or good opinion of me and my work – *snap* just like that. But if it’s true that someone’s opinion of me could change that easily anyway, what’s the use of working so hard to cover up these less-than-perfect, but true aspects of who I am? I’ve heard someone with thousands of followers on twitter say that they consistently lose followers every time they tweet something – especially something bold and gutsy. Should they never tweet anything? And if they did decide to never tweet or put anything out there, what value are they giving the consistent, faithful followers that they do have? Nothing.
I’ve come to the conclusion that running from or hiding my weaknesses and genuineness from people will not get me ahead at all in life. In fact, if I’m always censoring, editing, or tweaking what I allow myself to put out into the world, I’ll probably end up hurting myself more in the long run. I can’t think of a better way to lose your unique voice than to constantly question whether something genuine you’ve done, shared, or made, makes you look bad or not. Do you want to be heard? Do you want to stand out? Do you want the right people (and followers) to listen – and keep listening – to what you have to say? Then be vulnerable. Be genuine. Be real. And stop caring so much about people finding out that you’re not perfect.
It’s sort of funny, because we all know there are no perfect people, anyway, and yet perfection is the persona we all seem to be striving for. Why do we work so hard to convince people to expect perfection out of us when we know full well that we are far from it and can never live up to that expectation? Striving to make others think we are perfect is to strive to be an imposter and a disappointment. If we thought about it at all, maybe we would quit trying so hard to be perfect and try a little harder to be honest. Honest about who we truly are and about what people can expect from us.
I am a human being, learning about how to be a better Christ follower, wife, sister, daughter, friend, photographer, homemaker, designer, writer, and a bunch of other things I haven’t discovered yet or didn’t list here. I have not arrived, I am weak, I let people down, and will spend my whole life trying to improve on of these things. That’s what you can expect of me.
Embracing and being open about our vulnerabilities and weaknesses doesn’t mean we stop doing our best. In fact, perfectionism is another one of my weaknesses, at times. Instead, I’m advocating doing our best and being at peace with, and honest about it, whatever state our “best” may be in. Of course there’s a right place and time for sharing vulnerabilities, and sometimes the discretion of that is a challenge. But honestly, I think most of us are more prone to covering up more than we have to than being open and honest about things that could make us look anything less than perfect.
The people I respect most in life are those who are candid, open, honest, and secure enough to share their fears, failures, and vulnerabilities with me and others.
Being vulnerable enough to recognize and admit mistakes, failures, and weaknesses cultivates trust, closeness, respect, and even more vulnerability.
While vulnerability needs to be cushioned by boundaries on all sides to ensure that it isn’t taken advantage of, having the wisdom and the confidence to be open about weaknesses (past or present) creates an atmosphere that inevitably leads to depth. And depth is where we see the characteristics that make us unique, individual, intricate and beautiful.
Share your vulnerabilities, but do it wisely. Even if you start with just yourself. Be honest. Stop believing that you have to be perfect, or even that you have to pretend to be perfect. Life is hard in some way or another for every single person that has or ever will live on this planet. But if we can learn to be vulnerable in the hardest parts, it can only make the sweetness of the joys all the better.
your imperfect friend,