I've started walking regularly again after giving birth, and I've always liked listening to podcasts while out walking. I stumbled upon Michelle Obamas new podcast on Spotify and thought I'd give it a go. In one of her podcasts I listened to yesterday she was talking with three young women she's worked with and been a mentor for about growth, failure and success.
A statement Michelle made really resonated with me - "vulnerability is the key to success". While I was out walking I pondered this, but the word "success" didn't feel right, as success is different to everyone. So the thought struck me - vulnerability is the key to an enriched life.
When I reflect back on the last few years, there are some times where I've shown authentic deep vulnerability which have been game changers.
One of the first of the first of these moments that sticks out for me was when I publicly talked about my experiences with anxiety for the first time. It was my turn to share a bit about me and my life to my fellow Rotarians. I put together bits and pieces from throughout my life, and was toying with the idea of including my experiences with anxiety. I turned to my parents for their advice, and they encouraged me to go for it. On finishing my talk I had multiple people come and let me know that either they or someone close to them has also experienced mental health difficulties, and that it meant a lot to them that I shared my experiences. The response I received was so unexpected, but it meant a lot that I was received so warmly and positively, even when sharing something I had kept under wraps because of the stigmas associated with it. This experience led me to jumping at future opportunities to speak publicly about my mental health.
Another experience that sticks out is when a long term relationship I was in came to an end and I shared this with people around me. The kindness, love and support I felt after being so deeply betrayed helped me to move through the healing process, connect with others and grow through what was a pretty painful time.
Following this experience I frequently thought about how the right man would react when I shared this experience with them. I knew that the right person would show me love, empathy and acceptance. It was about 18 months after that break up that I met the right man. I knew pretty quickly that there was something special about him, and pretty quickly I felt comfortable to open up and be vulnerable with him, and he showed up for me in every way I needed. He was understanding, caring, supportive and accepting - it only deepened our connection and allowed us to grow together.
I truly believe that being vulnerable is never a bad thing. If in being vulnerable the person doesn't give you what you need, whether that is support, empathy or being vulnerable with you, it shouldn't make you hold back from being vulnerable again. It is often easier to retreat back into our shell, but through being vulnerable you will experience growth, authenticity, connect with people and find your life enriched.