Dr Brené Brown‘s research on vulnerability is fascinating. She gave an incredible TED talk on this topic back in 2010, as well as a more recent one on shame, which really resonated with me. In it, she even quoted Theodore Roosevelt to sum up her point, which was that:
Life is about daring greatly, and about being in the arena.
Enter vulnerability. Though most people avoid it like the plague, she calls it the “birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” and even “the most accurate measurement of courage”.
All this borrowed wisdom on vulnerability is proving relevant during a transitional time in my life right now. After 14 years of full-time employment, I will soon switch to part-time consulting and project-based work. The thing is, I’d always seen myself going down this road eventually. But not this soon, and in this manner. I thought I had another good five to ten years to go, but it looks as if God has other plans for me.
On some level, I am excited to finally have more flexibility over my schedule and I am looking forward to more time with my children, and for writing—but then I also find myself wrestling with this little thing called vulnerability. Optimism for a bright and beautiful future can oftentimes be overshadowed by an oh-so-foreboding sense of what if this ends badly? But if Dr Brown is right, allowing myself to remain vulnerable is the only way any real growth can take place.
One night I sat up thinking about all this. I wasn’t sure I felt ready to get back in the arena—I didn’t know if I dared anymore to dare greatly. I felt myself convinced that all the bad stuff happening now must mean I made the wrong decision somewhere earlier in the process. But it wouldn’t be fair to blame myself: how could I ever have known? I relied only on whatever information and tools I had at the time, and discerned with the limited knowledge I had.
And as I went back and forth with the same questions of “Why now? and “Why like this?”, I heard a quiet little voice within go, “If not now, when? And if not like this, then how, ever?”
Ready or not, it’s time to say hello to my old friend, vulnerability, and to acknowledge that maybe I’ll always be vulnerable. And that it’s OK.
I’m still in the arena, and my story’s still being written. People who’ve hurt me don’t get to decide how it ends—I do.