Vitality through vulnerability: guest post from a volunteer
Guest Author: Lisa Wilder
My name is Lisa, and I started my journey with Distress Centre Calgary in mid-September as an online services volunteer. I have what I call a “wondering mind.” Although this can take me off on all sorts of tangents, it should not be confused with a “wandering mind.” It is much different. It means that there is very little I approach without curiosity. There is very little I see as black and white, and I believe that all things carry aspects of both good and bad. It is not finding something that is right, but more finding what is RIGHT FOR YOU, instead of letting someone else tell you what that should be.
But in a world as crazy and busy as ours, how do we do this? How can we best bring forth food for thought and find different points of view? Through open and honest dialogue of course!
Many of us have heard of Brené Brown. If you haven’t, I highly suggest looking her up. One of my favorite TED Talks is the one she gives on vulnerability. She says that “vulnerability is the only bridge to connection.” I would like to add something here though – I don’t believe it is the only bridge to connection, I believe it is the only bridge to TRUE CONNECTION, to honest connection.
Vulnerability means letting the outside see your inside, warts and all. It means letting people know your true thoughts and owning up to and sharing the all of who you are. Yes, this can be so very scary to do…letting others see what we feel are our weaknesses and flaws, but as she so poignantly puts it: “Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
I will add one other word here, GROWTH. It is through vulnerability that we grow.
Living vulnerably is easier said than done. It feels great when we are validated and people cheer us on, but what happens when we encounter “those against?” You know – those people who are quick to shoot down our ideas, who laugh and make fun, tell us we are crazy, or tell us we are wrong in our thinking? We shut down of course, turtling back into our shells where we feel protected again. This is NORMAL and part of natural progression! Growth is never linear. Just like life, it is full of ups and downs, but without growth we stay stagnant, which can keep us from reaching our full potential and/or living the life that speaks to our soul, and instead we fall into the trap of living the life others (parents, friends, relatives, and society at large) think we should.
In the past 2 years, I have learned not just the importance of vulnerability, but the essentialness of it. It is part of everyday life! As a volunteer, am I not vulnerable each and every time I am on a call or chat with a service user? Not just through sharing my knowledge, but by way of being critiqued and receiving feedback from my mentor (which is how we learn and grow!). And are those service users not vulnerable with me each and every time they call in and share what is troubling them?
Without judgement, I ask you to think about what vulnerability means to you, and where you might allow it to come into your life. What feelings do you have around it? Do you live vulnerably, or do you close yourself off? Do you speak your truth, or stay silent so as not to make waves or for fear of feeling silly? Who do you allow yourself to be vulnerable with, and what might allow you to be vulnerable with others? Where might you benefit from adding vulnerability into your life?
Then I will challenge you to take it one step further and consciously bring more of it into your life. Find comfort in the discomfort, move in a little closer, open yourself up, and make friends with that scary beast…let it become your ally instead of your enemy. I can guarantee it will only help you in reaching your most authentic self, so you may shine the beautiful gift of you onto our world.
As Brené Brown would say – “dare to be.”