Vulnerability is a hard thing. Being vulnerable is not just about sharing stories in hopes that people will acknowledge and relate to you, but it is also taking a risk to be emotionally open to yourself. To be vulnerable is to take a risk and open yourself up to embarrassment, criticism, and chances that you never thought you would be able to have. You are opening yourself up to possibilities of growth when you allow yourself to be vulnerable. You are no longer allowing fear or shame to be a factor when you take the leap to be emotionally open.
I will be the first to say, “Vulnerability scares me”. Why? Because you never know what the response will be from being vulnerable. When I think vulnerability, I think about the chances you take to say “I Love You”, talking about your traumas or leaving for a job in another state etc. All things, I am currently experiencing. Opening yourself up physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally are vulnerable pieces of you that you want to keep safe or hidden. While being vulnerable comes with risks and uncertainty, it is also a chance for people to know what is really going on or to see who you really are. The vulnerability we seek is a part of a self-care journey that develops your perception of self, self-compassion, and mindfulness that is needed in one’s life.
Taking chances to be vulnerable is like playing Jenga, you may be certain about the outcome of the first few blocks you pull out, but you slowly start to become uncertain as you continue to pull more blocks. The blocks are your emotional ties and things that you pick and choose to share with others and with the uncertainty of their support/ response your tower begins to shake and sometimes it falls. Brene Brown says vulnerability teaches you how to essentially combat fear and shame, “the fear of disconnection” or “the shame of worthiness”. We all want to connect in some way and we want to be “seen”. The idea of vulnerability is to be seen in the most whole-hearted authentic way. We take chances to connect with others in order to build relationships and deepen our understanding of others, but in doing so we sometimes develop a healthier relationship with ourselves through our interactions.
Finding Places to be vulnerable
Sometimes the best way for me to process my vulnerabilities is with a group or online so that I can visually or verbally reflect on my emotions and take those extra steps to let others see me. I’ve been in a place where I’ve numbed my emotions in order to get through specific fears or uncertainties I may have about myself. I struggle to let others see beyond the surface level, which many of us do until we feel it is safe to allow others to see underneath. You have to lean into discomfort to be truly vulnerable with yourself and have self-compassion.
I want to highlight a movement that encouraged me to embrace my vulnerability, Dear Black Women (DBW). Dear Black Women is a movement that creates a collective space for black women to affirm each other through letters, circles, newsletters, podcast, merchandise etc. through social media platforms such as Instagram, GroupMe, and Facebook.
DBW is founded by Florence Noel who felt the need to be intentional in creating a space for black women by black women. She saw the need for spaces that encourage us, black women, to express ourselves and be who we are in the most affirming way. These circles started in Ann Arbor with women from the University of Michigan but evolved to holding circles in Detroit and developed a following across the country through social media. Being apart of DBW has allowed me to open myself up to women I have never met and create a supportive circle of women I now call friends and family. We believe in encouraging each other and having the anonymity to share our deepest thoughts in letters that we share with each other.
Dear Black Women have developed spaces for women who are from diverse cultural backgrounds, status and professional backgrounds. These women aspire to develop communities, systems, challenge political ideologies etc. Women who are beautifully open and unapologetically themselves in a space where there is no shame or fear to just fellowship, relate, talk, cry, dance, eat and be vulnerable. I love DBW because I connect with women who vibrate higher. I can be my most authentic self with friends who share different perspectives and encourage self-care, self-compassion, and self-awareness while also acknowledging effective ways to develop one’s self-perception.