The Importance of Vulnerability and Acceptance
What is vulnerability? We commonly associate vulnerability with the concept of being open about our true selves, our more honest selves, despite the world’s opinions or any form of adversary that emerges in our life. Although there may be no way to finitely define vulnerability, I believe it intertwines our authenticity with shame and fear. It may not be uncommon to think that being vulnerable is associated with the larger possibility of getting hurt given the militaristic conditions associated with a vulnerable defense, but it is foreign to some to embrace that being vulnerable is a continuous form of contending with shame and fear. As Brené Brown defines vulnerability to be, “the core of shame and fear, but also the birthplace of joy, love and belonging, and worthiness.”
Vulnerability may resemble the axis point between happiness from the most genuine relationships with others and yourself to experiencing shame and guilt from not being accepted. We have a hardwired function that wants to belong and connect with others and those that claim they strictly are immune to the opinion of others and do not need any form of human connection, have no sense of empathy. Vulnerability is ultimately linked with shame, the possibility of disconnection and losing relationships because of the potential question, what if I’m not blank enough?
To overcome this being, it takes a sense of worthiness and a sense of belonging of our authentic selves. Despite it being easier said than done, it isn’t something that people easily attain, let alone ever achieve. No one is immune to the fear of shame and ultimately, it is a day-by-day practice to accept ourselves for who we are. Almost everyone has said internally or knows someone, seen someone, or even read someone that said if I was smarter, prettier, funnier, thinner, I would be loved. The reality is that you have to let go of who you believe you should be to be your actual self and form genuine connections. Vulnerability may allow for the possibility of feeling pain and unworthiness, but it also allows for the possibility of acceptance, love, and joy.
Acceptance isn’t something you earn from anyone, let alone yourself, it is something that you already are. From the moment you are born, growing, learning, exploring, and living; you are someone that deserves to be accepted for who you are as your authentic self. In the adversity of society and with everyone seemingly wanting you to be someone entirely new and different, it may seem impossible. However, it starts with the acknowledgment that you are enough, and to practice being more of your authentic self. Many people around you, including friends and family, may become uncomfortable with your truer self, but that does necessarily mean that being vulnerable is wrong. Vulnerability takes repetitive courage and truth which although may at times be one of the most awkward or most uncomfortable experiences you may come across, is never a weakness.
(This article was heavily inspired by Brené Brown and her book The Gifts of Imperfection. Check out the book and some of her TedTalks if you are interested in learning more!)
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Brown Brené, The Gifts of Imperfection, Hazelden Information and Educational Services, 2020
Brown Brené. The Power of Vulnerability, TED, June 2010, https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability