The Big V

 Today we’re going to chat about the Big V. Oh come on, get your head out of the gutter. Not that. What I’d like to get down and dirty with today is vulnerability, 

     For me, vulnerability was always some buzzword people used when they were expounding on unrequited love, or it was a word that signified some kind of weakness. I never really understood what it meant. It wasn’t until I started reading Brenee Brown that I had my a-ha moment, and with it came the realization that if we all truly understood what it meant to be vulnerable, we would have so much more compassion for one another.

     So what does vulnerability actually mean? Brenee’s definition is, “…uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. It’s that uncertain feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.” My nephew, Jesse, once explained that when you are vulnerable you are “open to attack.” Not too shabby, considering he told me that when he was 11 years old.

     When we are vulnerable we are letting people see who we really are, and what we can and can’t do. There is no hiding and there are no masks. There is just our authentic self, out there for the world to see and dare I say, sometimes judge. Truly, that is the very opposite of weakness.

     This is why vulnerability is so hard and I think we’ve all been there. If I let myself be seen, what will people say? How will they treat me if I show them the real me? What if they think I’m clueless? Will I get hurt? Sheesh, didn’t we put an end to all that in middle school? Apparently not.

    Well, let me tell you how I recently had to allow myself to be vulnerable. After a long hiatus from group fitness and yoga classes, I decided to hit the gym again.

    Once upon a time, I could walk into a strength and conditioning class with confidence, looking forward to getting my bad-ass groove on. Well, that once upon a time was way back when, and I had to head back into class and start from square one. Waaaahhhh!

        I gathered my courage, knowing that things were going to be hard and that it wasn’t going to be pretty. But that’s okay. I was going to do everything and do it poorly until I could do it, and then do it well. That’s part of vulnerability too.

        With help from my friends, I got my equipment in place and looked in the mirror as my nervous-little-Nellie-self was getting ready to start. That’s when I noticed the static cling. The fabric of my shirt was embracing every single roll on my body, some I didn’t even know I had. Ugh! Did my Michelin Man reflection stop me? No, I laughed out loud and kept going. What was I going to do, leave? Nah, I just rolled with it.

Me, doing the bicycle exercise at the gym.

     Class started and while it wasn’t as bad as I expected, oh lordy did I have some moments. Instead of doing the core exercise, bicycle, I like to say I did the beetle because I looked like a beetle who accidentally flipped on its back, appendages flailing, trying desperately to flip back over. 

     I didn’t give up. I looked at my friends, Renee and Abby, who happened to be next to me in class and while I wished I could still do the work like they could, I accepted what was, let my beetle self be seen, and kept at it. Our instructor, Karin, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Good job Jen!” She saw me, acknowledged me, and cheered me on all because I allowed myself to be vulnerable.

     And when you think about it, most of the time nobody really gives a crap. Nobody is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you. They’re thinking about what they can and can’t do and they are too busy being vulnerable themselves. 

     Vulnerability, whether it’s taking a class, saying yes to a job, making new friends, falling in love, or even writing blog entries, can be hard. But if I let fear of judgement get in the way of what I truly want to do and who I really want to be, I will never have the opportunity to grow, experience life, or even just have a whole lot of fun. 

     So do it. Though vulnerability may be difficult, take big deep breaths. Embrace that static cling and keep moving forward, knowing that life is not always comfortable. Push through the discomfort and let yourself be seen. Be the beetle. 

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