The Real Face of Vulnerability.

“Authenticity” and “”vulnerability” — two qualities that will apparently make you a crowd favourite if you display them today.

I know the practice well. I have been displaying these traits in my writings and social media platforms for years, and I advise my clients to do likewise. This practice reaps awesome results. “Want to be popular and well loved by your fans and readers? Simply be “authentic”. Simply be “vulnerable”. Tell a sad story that reveals a fear or ugly past. Appear with no makeup. Or take a selfie of your less-than-perfect body. They will love it.”

But even then, I found that these buzzwords easily become storytelling handles that one uses without batting an eye — all in the name of getting engagement, virality or popularity.

I came across this talk by Brene Brown (which you can watch on Netflix), who talks about vulnerability as it should be. “Vulnerability is not measured by the amount of disclosure….” Rather, she invites us to consider this instead:

Vulnerability is the act of “showing up when you have no control of the outcome” and “allowing yourself to be seen”.

Brene Brown

Tell me, would you still talk about it online if you had no idea if people would even like your post, or share it? Would you show up if there was even a fraction of a possibility that you might lose or be shamed?

But that’s true vulnerability, you see.

I can be selective about the stories and parts of myself that I choose to disclose. But true vulnerability is actually really scary, because it could reveal to you that in reality, “no one cares”. Or, “everyone hates you now”.

Will you be able to go ahead then?

Allow me to give a few ideas of what I think true vulnerability is:

  • True vulnerability is promoting my creative work that may not look or sound like the others. In fact, it could be a unique piece of creation no one has seen or heard of before. It could get rejected. It may bomb. But I will choose to promote it shamelessly, anyway, even if only 2 people like my posts and 5 people support work monetarily.
  • True vulnerability is showing up for a sports tournament against someone who is apparently younger and less experienced than I am, but by athletic advantage, could defeat me. This could show up on the news. People might laugh, or even say that I am lousy. But I will choose to show up anyway, and give my best, for the love of the sport and commitment to my practice.
  • True vulnerability is pitching an idea to a board of experienced professionals, risking the possibility of them sneering at me for not knowing as much, criticising me, or calling me incompetent.
  • True vulnerability is being okay to healthily express my thoughts and emotions to someone that I want to create a deeper connection with. Sometimes, we might not always get this right, because the other party cannot meet us at that place. I have found out through awkward, and sometimes painful, scenarios that not all friends like me as much as I like them. But I will choose to keep sharing my heart and inviting that person to a place of connection and honour. This is probably the toughest one for me, to be honest.

True vulnerability is not dependent on the response of others. In fact, true vulnerability is not dependent on outcome. True vulnerability is surrendering control over the outcome, and allowing yourself to trust in the hand of the One who knows best and works things out for good.

And even though that is a high chance that you might not get more likes, follows, or fans; or you might get overlooked for promotion or praise, there is so much more freedom when you choose to put your security in the One who is doing all the work. It takes the pressure off your need to perform or look good, and gives you the opportunity to shine and soar as who you really are.

It is counter cultural, but this true vulnerability might just be what the world needs today. Are you ready to live it?

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