To be vulnerable is to be weak. Full of shame. Defeated. Or at least that’s what I used to think.
I recently read Brené Brown's book, "Daring Greatly." Brown has dedicated much of her career to researching, speaking and writing about — you guessed it — vulnerability. She's arguable the world's biggest expert on the topic. The words she uses to describe vulnerability: Brave. Courageous. Truth. Authentic.
Those are some good words!
For most of my life, I've taken great lengths to NOT be vulnerable. To show emotion, struggle and to open myself up felt like weakness.
Few people in my adult life have seen me cry. And when they have, I have felt weak and ashamed. The risks I've taken have been calculated and I've made decisions based on what others will think of me instead of what I will think of me.
This blog has already given me tremendous growth. It's made me more open about my struggles and triumphs. Every word you're reading is a piece of me, making me vulnerable to your criticism and judgment.
At first I only wrote about "safe" things. And with some encouragement from my sister and husband, I got more comfortable and started sharing "scarier" topics. Things that really hold weight in my story. I became vulnerable.
I've become quite brave behind the computer screen. And now, I'm working to become more brave without my mighty keyboard.
The funny thing about vulnerability is that it's kind of contagious. When I took a risk and went to yoga school, I felt incredibly vulnerable. But it resulted in one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my life. I wanted more.
And I got more.
After yoga school I began teaching yoga, and each time I step on my mat in front of a group, I'm vulnerable. As a yoga instructor, I'm essentially sharing my personal yoga practice — my church — with others. That's pretty fracking vulnerable. And it's made me so ... content. That's the right word. I'm content and at peace knowing I'm doing exactly what I want to do and exactly how I want to do it. The way that feels most authentically "me." Not the way that feels like Tara Stiles or Kino MacGregor (P.S. I love both of them) but like Cara McDonald.
Through this blog and my yoga teaching journey, I've made great strides. But I want to be all in. I want to be vulnerable in all aspects of my life. I want to be honest and open in my relationships. I want to speak my mind and accept the consequences, good or bad. I want to make mistakes and own them, knowing that I'll also get to own my successes.
I'm going to make mistakes. I'm going to speak my mind and say the wrong thing sometimes. I'm going to hurt people close to me. But I know that my relationships will be stronger. Being vulnerable makes relationships more intimate. It may not be as safe, but the rewards are greater.
I asked my therapist last week, "Why is it so scary? They're just my feelings."
"Because you're human, Cara."
Yeah, we are just human. But someday I am going to be my daughter or son's superhero, so I better start practicing now.