We hear these words thrown around quite a bit. Maybe it’s just in my world, but I am guessing if you stop by these parts they are in your world as well. Maybe, like me, they are values you hold in high regard, values you seek to embody.
I don’t want to give you another post about how the world needs YOU, the authentic you. I don’t want to spend too much time reminding you (and me) that all your vulnerable places are beautiful, or that your vulnerability brings freedom, that it shakes the world up. I don’t want to go on for paragraphs about how the only way to be fully known and embraced by others and by God is for you to invite them in to embrace your true self, all the dirt and grit and flowers of it. (Okay, when I say I don’t want too, that is not true, I want to, I could go on for days really. But I am pretty sure you know all this already.)
What I want to do, is be honest with you about something I have seen in myself, maybe something within you too.
It almost seems like vulnerability is trendy right now doesn’t it? We wear our flaws like badges of honor, present them on instagram with clever captions and a funny photo. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it. I would much rather live in a world where it is okay to be flawed, to be broken and human and share in that with others than a world that insists on shaming our imperfections and hiding. Also I don’t dare believe we have this vulnerability thing down, there is still a long way to go.
But I have noticed something… slimy, sneaky, ugly, in me as vulnerability becomes the cool thing. I guess you could call it a new mask, one with just the right amount of manipulation to make it stick real well. As I sit here trying to put a name to it, I can think of no better way to put it than to say that the very thing I seek to be has become a mask itself.
“Hello, I am Megan and I hide behind vulnerability and honesty.”
“But that’s a contradiction Meg, how can that possibly be?”
Well, have you ever found yourself being just vulnerable enough, just honest enough, just authentic enough. You know, just enough that the people around you are impressed by your “bravery” that they wouldn’t believe that there is any more to the story because “look at how raw that was?”
Like when I talk about how I struggle with body image. That is authentic and real, and it sure takes bravery to be honest about it. But often I will digress into all the ways the world imposes rigid beauty standards and all these other lofty things that are true, but I won’t tell you about the things that I think of myself when I am having a down day, I won’t reach out to you for help when I am at a particularly low moment. But you see, I was vulnerable enough back there that you wouldn’t think twice that there is more to the story, because I am “so vulnerable” that I would have told you on my own right?
That is only one of a million examples.
My thoughts on this might surprise you. Maybe it just surprises me because I am an all or nothing kind of gal. See, I don’t think the answer is to go wild with vulnerability, to share all your deepest darkest with the whole world. I think that the “vulnerable enough” place is not all bad. I think that “vulnerable enough” still shifts things, it still pushes the bigger picture in the right direction, you know? Also, I believe there is something to be said for sacredness and safety. The real point of all these ramblings is to encourage self awareness, to make me (and hopefully you too) recognize the places where you are choosing “just enough” when you should be going wild crazy all the way real. The world of social media or every person you have a conversation with may not be safe for all the depths of your honesty, but I am willing to bet there are a handful of people who are.
Don’t hold back on them.
Choose reckless vulnerability before them. Choose telling the personal, ugly, shameful, details of your hurts. Choose walking with them through the unfinished process, not just the hard moments you have wrapped up on your own. Choose bringing the dark places to light with them.
You know what else, chose to be that safe person. Free your closest to be in process. Let them make mess of your shoulder with sloppy wet tears. Let them rejoice over victories big and small.
Take that mask off friend, the air out there sure is sweet.