A few months ago, my family went through a bumpy patch. I’m not going to go into detail, but it was one of those weeks – or months – where life just felt…hard. I saw my child hurting, which in turn made me hurt, and there really wasn’t anything I could do to fix it.
My usually bubbly personality was suddenly very flat. I had to fake a smile. I felt like a zombie had taken over my body, and I struggled to get through every day.
Here at WodBottom, I oversee our marketing department. It’s my job to show up on social media and live videos, projecting happiness and fun. But during that time, I just was NOT feeling it.
Instead of hiding my face, I decided to get in front of the camera, warts and all. In my Instagram video, I admitted that I wasn’t feeling like my smiley, crazy, fun-loving self. I wanted to be honest with the WodBottom family and tell you all that my life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.
I did something scary. I showed vulnerability.
Vulnerability Isn’t Fun…But It’s Important
Being vulnerable isn’t fun. Our society places high value on strength and power. Showing emotion is perceived as weak. Think about it: what is the conditioned, automatic response when someone asks us, “how are you”? It’s almost always, “I’m good. Everything is fine. Nothing is wrong here!”
But here’s the thing: we know that’s not the case. None of us are 100% fine all the time. Life is hard sometimes. Life hurts. When we can’t admit that to anyone, we’re forced to carry it on our own.
Eventually, we’re all walking around carrying fear and hurt, trying to cover it up with a forced smile. We’re all feeling the weight of life and its challenges. Perhaps talking about these emotional loads is the way to make them feel a little lighter.
Vulnerability Creates Compassion and Connection
Showing the chinks in your armor might not feel brave, but it is brave. When you dare to step outside your comfort zone and show vulnerability, you make it safe for others to do the same. Revealing our flaws isn’t a sign of weakness, as our culture would have us believe. Instead, it’s the ultimate show of inner strength.
Social scientist and author Brené Brown focuses much of her research on vulnerability. If you’ve never read a Brené book or seen her give a talk, you’re missing out on some seriously life-changing stuff.
Brené talks a lot about human connection. She explains that stepping out and showing our vulnerability helps us build deeper connections with those around us. And when we have more significant, more personal connections, we also become more compassionate with one another. We begin to understand that people are people; we all have doubts, fears, and troubles.
In her book Dare to Lead, Brené Brown writes:
“To be the person who we long to be—we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen.”
Take Off Your Armor
The WodBottom community is full of strong people, both mentally and physically. For women, in particular, it can be tough to tear down the walls we’ve built and show the emotions lurking underneath. It feels like weakness. It feels like failure.
I need you to hear this: being vulnerable is anything but weak. When you share your story, you free yourself from a weight that you were never meant to carry alone. But more than that, when you become vulnerable – when you show others the real you, with all your struggles – you become a light in a world that sometimes feels pretty dark.
This week, I encourage you to take off that armor. If you’re struggling with something, tell someone. Share your story with a friend. Confide in your partner about something that’s bothering you. Let your co-workers know that it is okay to bring emotions to work. Who knows? Your vulnerability might inspire someone else to come forward and ask for help, too.