5 lessons for Vulnerability
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Last year I got frustrated with work and decided I wanted an entirely new life. I decided that the resolution didn’t lie in facing the problem head on or learning to have difficult conversations and confront my frustration. No. I decided that the only resolution to my work frustrations was moving to Bali.
Yep. Bali, Indonesia.
For the next six months I threw myself into making it happen. I reached out to a few expats and enrolled in school to begin the process of becoming a TEFL instructor. I mentally rehearsed my resignation speech and the looks on everyone’s faces when I announced that I would be moving to Southeast Asia at the height of my career.
As the completion of my program neared, I realized maybe I wasn’t quite ready to make that type of commitment. A sinking feeling of embarrassment (and relief) rushed over me as I found myself thinking…”shit, I’ve done it again.”
I’d done what I had been doing for the last three years every time I get overwhelmed: escape through the pursuit of some other version of my life usually through exploring some other hobby or career path.
This ultimately led me to analyze this behavior and I settled on a few things:
1. I definitely needed a hobby
2. I lack follow through
3. I’m scared of how the things I do will be perceived so much that I don’t do much
And #3 - vulnerability - was the biggest issue here.
I addressed the hobby part first. When I thought about what I’m passionate about (mental health) and what I’m good at (talking), it wasn’t hard to decide on blogging and podcasting.
And just like that, No Tea Just Juice and Therapy Juice Bar were born. And just like the other projects, I threw myself into it with a blind dedication, determined to make it happen mainly because this was something I was passionate about that extended beyond me. But it wasn’t necessarily easy to bring it into fruition.
Months after deciding to do these projects I was attacked by my own thoughts. I found myself thinking things like, “What makes you think you can do a podcast?” and ” There are already tons of mental health podcasts out there, why do we need another one?” Just really mean, self-defeating thoughts that even the most positive of affirmations couldn’t keep at bay.
My first instinct was to give into these thoughts, but something wouldn’t let me. Then I heard a quote that described vulnerability as, “showing up when you can’t control the outcome.” I realized that I wasn’t really showing up. I realized that maybe I struggle with vulnerability. I realized that perhaps the reason I didn’t follow through with many projects (#2) is because of #3.
So I decided to stop straddling the fence, hop down with both feet on the ground and show up. It wasn’t easy, but I want to share what I discovered was holding me back and how I worked through it:
Living in a Box
I find many creatives are passionate about their craft, so it can feel quite scary to think about someone speaking negatively or misinterpreting the things that you do. For me, it was a fear that had all but immobilized me. I didn’t do or say anything that I felt would expose me to the unsolicited opinions, criticism, and judgements of others (especially strangers). So at some point in my life I decided that I would avoid that by bringing as little attention to myself as possible.
And while this perspective kept me relatively “safe,” it came at a great cost. My wanting to be so inclusive that no one felt offended really stifled my creativity and limited my voice. I’d been living in a box. A small, tight, poorly lit box that I thought would ensure not only safety, but happiness. Last year, I realized that there was no way that I could do a podcast or this blog from inside my box.
I’d taken the lid off the box and decided to entertain the idea of actually one day living outside of it…only and if only everything was perfect. So, I had to have the perfect equipment, get over the sound of my voice, understand everything about podcasting and editing, and eliminate any room for error and then and only then could I do the podcast and the blog. Of course there is no way to have absolute certainty in anything. Perfectionism is an unattainable goal; however for some of us, our need to be perfect derives from deeper places of hurt, invalidation and of wanting to be accepted.
I used to want to only attempt things that I was certain would work out the way I envisioned them in my head. This belief will only rob you opportunities to experience true growth and happiness as “perfect” is and will always be an unattainable goal. I’ve learned that at some point, some amount of failure is inevitable, but from there comes growth and innovation. Remember, progress over perfectionism.
Nobody can do it like you
You’ve probably heard the bread analogy about how bread is bread, yet when you go on the bread aisle at the store, you’ll see tons of bread by different brands. Even though it’s mostly the same, people decide to purchase all these different breads because there’s something about a certain brand that they like best. For many, it speaks to the power of choice. For me, it says “nobody can do it like you.”
I realized that while there may be tons of podcasts already out there, it is my own unique personality and perspective that would make mine special, and those who need my perspective will find enjoyment in my content. I’m learning to be okay with the reality that my content or my style may not be for everyone (as much as I would like it to be) but excited to build a community of people who feel my content speaks to them. I have lots of tattoos, colorful, and I do curse…quite a bit. But someone told me recently that it was exactly that, among other things, that made me unique.
It’s not the critic who counts
I was first introduced to this quote last year while watching The Call to Courage on Netflix and it honestly has been game changer!
While it hurts to have people criticize us and talk negatively about the things we’re passionate about, we must learn to discern whose opinions of us really matter. It’s our job to only elicit feedback from those who have proven to be honest with us because they have our best interest in mind. Many people unfortunately will never have the courage to attempt to do anything creative or as brave as you. They will make a full time job out of finding the most hurtful things possible to say about you and your craft. There is no getting around the pain that this will undoubtedly cause. When this happens you must remind yourself, step away, engage in some self-care, and remember that it is not the critic who counts.
Embrace the fear
I used to look at all of the creatives and leaders of the world and think, “Man, I’d love to be as fearless as them.” I told myself that once I no longer felt afraid, I would be able to do anything.
I’ve since learned that fear is normal and doesn’t really go away. Being brave is a choice, choosing courage over comfort is a choice. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t take my fear as a sign that I’m not ready or it isn’t time. Whenever you choose to create something or show up in the world authentically, whenever you choose to put yourself out there, there will be fear. Remind yourself that fear is a normal part of the process and while this may get easier (or not) over time. Personally, I believe the more important is to you, the scarier it may feel. Embrace the fear and...
Do it anyway
If you’ve been sitting on an idea and it doesn’t seem to go away, take it as a sign that it’s time to start. Start now with where you’re at with what you have. I don’t know everything about podcasting or blogging, I’m not a social media influencer, and don’t know anything about navigating the algorithms on Instagram, but I’m doing it anyway. You want to know why? Because I’m passionate about having conversations that bring us closer together. And it is the motivating factor that continues to inspire me to stop playing it small, live outside of the box, embrace the fear and be vulnerable. It’s scary, but I’m doing it anyway.
So whether you want to start a blog or a podcast or write a book or move to Bali (still on the table), start now, show up now, and do it anyway.
What is your WHY? Let me know in the comments!
And until next time,
Peace, Love & Juice!