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choosing vulnerability

There's a back and forth that occurs in my mind when debating whether or not I should say or do one thing verses the other.

It even happens when I'm in the middle of actually speaking on behalf of one of those arguments

The reason why a majority of these conversations are debated in the first place is due to the weight of vulnerability they hold.

What does it mean to be "vulnerable", anyways?

Before I translate my understanding of the word and why it's key to growing as a person and in our relationships with other, I want to acknowledge that there are a lot of ways this definition and topic can go - for today, I'm going to keep it brief. Per usual Kimber fashion, I like to dive into topics that require more than a section on a blog to be fully grasped - they require conversations with real people, they require us to be present in the discomfort, and they need a shift of perspective tailored to you, the reader.

That said, after you read this post, I'd encourage you to grab a friend (in person or virtually), pour something delicious and talk about what vulnerability means to you and why it matters.

Vulnerability is when we expose a part of us that is either sacred or fragile.

A few examples could be admitting fault (aka humility), speaking even when anxious of what others will say, think or do, or talking about past or present hurts and doubts with others. There are also circumstances where we don't have much choice on whether or not to be vulnerable with others - often as a result of a physical disability, age or injury.

Brene Brown, one of my favorite authors, speaks to the strengths of vulnerability, courage, empathy and shame throughout her book Daring Greatly and a previous Netflix special, The Call to Courage (if you haven't seen it, go watch it today!).

She define's vulnerability as simply this:

uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. It's that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.

I think it's important for us to know that building the resilience to be vulnerable in our day to day can be an incredible strength, and not a weakness. Putting the risks of ridicule and potentially awkward sweat that comes from sharing maybe a little too much, there is so much good that stems from daring to be authentically you - and that includes vulnerability.

When it's Good

The main reason I have such confidence in the strengths of our vulnerabilities is that it can lead someone out of the muddy waters when we share our experiences through rough terrains.

We have opportunities every day to be kind, strong and brave - and it takes us being vulnerable to do any of those this.

To bring light to someone's dark moment - let them know this is not forever.

To be a reminder that the depression, anxiety, grief, and mourning does not, can not, and will not define them, that it will not determine where they will go. I'd like to add that an experience or circumstance doesn't have to be identical to someone else's in order them to be encouraged by your story. It's our differences that make us better and stronger the next day.

There's also fear of being portrayed as weak if and when we choose vulnerability - and I disagree. To be vulnerable shows one's level of courage and strength, acting in confidence is one of the hardest things we do.

When we are choosing vulnerability, we grow in our humility, self-awareness and perseverance. It's not easy - but the results are almost always a better outcome than we thought would be.

When it's Harmful

As a natural pessimist, it's not hard for me to believe that there are going to be toxic people we encounter in this world. When I say toxic I mean people full of nasty pride, lack of empathy, and little awareness or care for those around them.

I start with defining why I think some people basically suck because

When we share the wounds of our story that have not yet healed into scars with someone we would not consider a safe space, we risk mocking

Why don't I think this is a good idea? If you're in the process of healing and you entrust this kind of information to someone who is not on your team, the recovery will take much longer, and the wound will grow bigger. In non-metaphorical language: you did't do right by you.

Sometimes we can't choose the specific people who make assumptions about us after observation (hi, reader I don't know personally), but we have the choice of detemrining what we put out there.

Are you going to share your family drama on Instagram tonight when your account is public?

Are you going to gossip about your co-worker when you go out to eat?

Will you cry on Facebook live streaming when some of your "friends" are people from high school who treated you like garbage (by the way, you should probably unfriend those people).

Vulnerability is tricky because yes, it makes us strong and there are ways of doing that without spreading brand new information to people we don't or can't possibly trust yet.

When I struggle in figuring out what to share with people who aren't within my circle of family or friends I trust dearly, I ask myself whether what's bothering me is a wound or a scar.

If it's a wound - active pain, keeps me up at night, sensitive information - I keep it within my circle.

If it's a scar - healed, but never quite gone - I consider it as something I can share with others outside my circle.

A scar is evidence of the wound - when the memory no longer causes you pain.

Before choosing vulnerability, consider the topic, the audience and the reason behind it.

Let's talk about the purpose for a second, because I'm afraid someone might see this as "I want to be vulnerable to get brownie points". No. Just no.

It's become almost a habit to share so much of ourselves to the world without considering what it is we're actually sharing or why.

Could what you're saying be harmful to yourself? Your spouse? Your best friend?

Is the goal is to remind someone of the storm before the calm again?

I think you get the picture: we have the potential to grow and learn how we can share our not-so-highlight-reels with those who didn't know they needed to hear it.

Before you start, take deep breaths, go outside for a few, and know that there is nothing people can do to determine who you choose to be.

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