This past weekend, I think I finally isolated the thing that has been holding me back all of this time. For the past few years, I’ve been reading inspirational text in search of an answer, but I never really knew what I was looking for. Each thing I read seemed to peel back a layer, but I think we finally reached the root.
I was watching Super Soul Sunday with Brene Brown. As I listened, I felt like she was talking to me. It made me cringe hearing the word, “vulnerability”. It felt like telling Superman to pick up Kyrptonite. I’ve spent my life mastering the art of pretending to be strong and trying to project that I am doing all the right things. Vulnerable sounded like weakness and weakness felt out of control.
Then Oprah said something that shook me to my core. She said, “Perfectionist are striving for a world that doesn’t exist.” I felt a pang in my stomach. Something inside me knew they were right, but I didn’t want to believe it. Brene Brown described perfectionism as, “ a cognitive, behavioral process. A way of thinking and feeling that says this; if I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame or judgment.” As I listened, I realized that perfectionism was my way of hiding who I really am. As long as I was succeeding, no one would ask questions.
Each morning when I wake up, I strap on my cape and I face the world as a perceived superpower. When someone responds to me with a problem, I try to make it go away. Being a perfectionist was effective in preventing people from looking too deep within me to see what my true issues are. But, it also isolates you in loneliness. When no one thinks you have problems, you’re no longer allowed to have problems. You’re locked into the falseness and there is a lack of empathy when you suffer the same feelings and insecurities that other people experience. It’s like locking yourself away in a tower.
But, it wasn’t until now that I knew what I was protecting myself from. It’s was vulnerability that I have been running from, numbing myself from and trying to avoid. I thought that I was trying to deny it to other people, but I was really trying to deny my vulnerability to myself. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t have the needs I have. I was trying to prove to myself that I wasn’t weak, lost or that I really need other people. I was trying to buy my own hype, but it never really worked.
“You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”- Brene Brown
In all truth, I thought if I wasn’t doing things for other people that they wouldn’t love me. I was afraid that someone else would see through me. I was afraid for other people to see that I am not perfect. I don’t have it together all the time. I don’t have all the answers. Even while writing this blog I have struggled with coming across as someone with all the answers, because I don’t. I have more questions than answers and I’m sharing as I learn. Now, I have accepted that I’m not perfect and I am comfortable with showing it. I’m letting go of trying to prove myself to others that I am worthy of love because of what I do rather than who I am. I never realized that I was placing the value of what I do in this world over simply being me. It explains why when my identity crumbled that I fell with it because who was I without my successful facade.
Vulnerability requires me to reveal who I am. The scary part about that is that it opens me up to judgment and criticism. But, I realized that the fear is that someone else will find out. If I reveal my darkness to the light then I have less to fear. If I am the one offering it up, then I have no fear of being exposed. So, I’m working on it. It’s not easy. It’s a choice to show up as myself instead of sending in my representative. My first act of courage is to tell the truth about how scared I am. Even though I pride myself on being honest with others, this is the first time I am being honest with myself and others about who I am in this world.
So, who am I? That’s the question I will dare to answer.
” Empathy’s the antidote to shame. The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.”- Brene Brown
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
― Brené Brown
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
― Brené Brown