As a child I avoided embarrassment like the plague. The thought of feeling awkward, uncomfortable or insecure scared me. So like most fears, I buried them deep behind my cool exterior. Whenever these fears seemed to resurface, it felt like I had swallowed cotton. My face became engulfed in red heat and I would try desperately to blink tears away from my eyes. Nobody wants people to see them lose control over their emotions and become unintentionally vulnerable. I didn’t know about the power of vulnerability and it kept me engaging with my authentic self for many years.
Studies have shown that being vulnerable and allowing yourself to connect with others enables youth to have a positive personal identity. Starting with small acts of vulnerability is an easy way to adapt the practice into a habit.
Start practising with strangers. If you notice a new haircut on someone and it looks really nice, tell them! If a conversation steers towards an experience that you to have had, share your story! Tell someone how happy you are to have them in your life. Eventually sharing such small details will become second nature to you. Vocalizing your feelings regularly leads you to becoming more aware of them, thus allowing others to know more about you as well!
I recently decided to teach myself to skate. I avoided learning as a child because I didn’t want to fall in front of my peers. I allowed my fear of being vulnerable to hold me back from having fun as a kid but that wasn’t going to stop me anymore. I decided that since I was more confident in who I was as an individual, I might as well put myself out there and achieve something my younger self only dreamed of.
Like learning to be vulnerable, skating like a pro doesn’t happen overnight. I wasn’t going to deny that I would need help accomplishing this goal. I needed an Early Skating Learning Aid. A lot of people would have been embarrassed using one, but I had a goal and I wasn’t about to let perceived judgments from others stop me from doing something I wanted to do.
After a long week of trial and error, I finally managed to learn to skate. I felt more accomplished than I had in years and I realized it was because I had crossed the bridge of vulnerability and made it to my goal. I was elated and most of all I was proud that I had used my ability to be vulnerable to achieve something I had waited so long to do.
There is incredible happiness that comes with acknowledging your vulnerabilities. By allowing yourself to express your honest emotions, you gain control over them and you stop allowing others to have power over what you want to do. I have enforced my power over my vulnerabilities which disables anyone from using them against me, giving me the courage to follow my dreams. This has led me to enjoy life and be effortlessly happy. I no longer fear rejection or judgement because I know what I’m about and I know that at the end of the day nobody can make me feel anything that I am not comfortable with feeling.
Starting out small and being vulnerable in small scale situations that will eventually lead to long term positivity is the most fulfilling accomplishment in life. Learning how to allow yourself to be vulnerable doesn’t happen overnight but once you start practicing, it’s as easy as learning how to skate.
Photo Credit: V. Smolensky – Me using an Early Skating Learning Aid at the Halifax Oval Public Skate