There are different ways to be vulnerable. I always thought vulnerability was its own thing. That you were vulnerable period and there was no nuance to that. I am discovering through personal experience, that I am so wrong. There are probably, I don’t know, hundreds of different ways to show up vulnerable. Sigh.
There is the vulnerability of going beyond, stretching and moving outside your comfort zone. The vulnerability that goes with learning a new skill like skiing or surfing. Being afraid that you can’t do something but reaching for it anyway. Being afraid you can’t have something but going for it. Being afraid you won't be good at something, but willing to learn anyway.
There is the tenuous vulnerability of the defensive one. When in the moment you realize you've opened, that very openness feels vulnerable and you watch the defenses go up. "I know I’m feeling vulnerable right now, I’m going to defend this. I’m going to protect this."
There is the broken-hearted vulnerable. The bring you to your knees, crack you open and ask for help vulnerable. And there is the soft-hearted tender cautious vulnerable of falling in love. The vulnerability of dying and of birthing.
There is vulnerability in admitting that you failed. It feels different from vulnerability of falling in love or trying for something beyond your reach. There is the vulnerability of just showing up, putting yourself out there. Like a college application. Waiting to be accepted or rejected is a very vulnerable feeling.
There is the vulnerability of admitting your own weakness. Vulnerability of the addict deciding to quit. The vulnerability of facing your demons and saying I have a gambling problem, I have a drinking problem, I have a drug problem, I have a shopping problem, I have a sex problem. This feels like a strong vulnerability.
There is the vulnerability of the victim who is beaten or robbed. That sense of being not secure and being vulnerable because of it. My heart breaks with this vulnerability.
There are so many ways that we are vulnerable in this world. And the truth is, if we try to go through life avoiding vulnerability, we will never feel the amazing depth and breadth of what it means to be human. A new practice I'm introducing in 2021 is doing something each day, one small thing and sometimes one big thing, where I experience vulnerability. How willing are you to feel fully alive and vulnerable?
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