I have a new hero: Brene’ Brown! When my friend recommended that I get to know her work, I had no idea what I was in for. The first thing I did was to watch her famous Ted talk. I felt like I had come home to myself, and like I was seeing a long lost friend for the first time in years. I felt like everything I had ever believed and fiercely protected about my own path was validated in those 20 minutes. I was also blown away that someone was actually researching vulnerability and shame. OK, so I was a little late to the party, but I believe her work arrived in my life at the perfect time.
Fast-forward about 2 years in Boulder, CO at Emerging Women Live, and I was privileged enough to sit in a room with 350 other women and hear her speak in person. She was just as real, honest and down to earth as she always is. Her humor and relaxed way of presenting her research makes it accessible and easy to understand. I feel like she is putting words to things that so many of us have experienced (from all sides) over the years. Maybe I can’t make that generalization, but I can certainly say that her research is revealing things that I have known to be true in my own life for a long time. The only catch is, that until recently, I was wary to assert these things or put words to them. I think it was for fear of being judged or viewed as “weak” or “overly emotional”. The latter has been a term attributed to me frequently throughout my life, so I learned at a young age to steer very clear of any behavior that would evoke its sting…or so I thought. I think I felt like I was steering clear of these things, but I could never help being vulnerable or wearing my emotions on my sleeve. It was like a default button for me. It was a painful place to be a lot of times, but now I am so grateful that I stayed true to my intuition, which told me that being vulnerable and sharing my emotions was key to my survival, and to my happiness.
As I become more aware of what vulnerability means, and as I learn more from Brene’ Brown’s research, I realize that there was a missing piece for me. It fell into place when I saw her speak. I had always struggled with the fine line between vulnerability and being too open (either over sharing or allowing people to walk all over me or project their issues onto me). Brene’ clarified this in her talk. She said (I am paraphrasing here) that the power of vulnerability does not lie in over sharing (or “floodlighting” as she calls it….or “dumping” as I call it), but rather in sharing with those people that have earned the right to hear your story. This was huge for me, because I had never been able to make that distinction before. Now I fell supported in being vulnerable and having boundaries. I really never thought the two were separable. This is a journal spread I did about vulnerability…for all art for me is exactly that, in the best possible way!