Noun: Vulnerability

For the past few years my friend Kristen and I have celebrated the New Year by coming up with a word that represents something we hope to gain more of in the following 365 days.

It didn’t start off on a very serious note, considering our first word in 2016 was ‘French fries’. Albeit, something we both clearly wanted more of in our lives. Who wouldn’t?

The year 2017 brought a dressy dinner for just the two of us, where we dedicated the year to our server who we had fallen in love with. “To the year of Claire,” we shouted as we clinked our glasses. It seemed quite fitting considering the meaning of Claire is ‘bright’, ‘clear’, and ‘light’, all of which were welcome in 2017.

Kristen and I rang in the New Year many miles apart for this time around the sun, but that hasn’t stopped us from picking a word for 2019. Or I should say, hasn’t stopped me from picking a word and forcing it on her as well. What are friends for if not to force you in to personal growth and development?

In 2019 we shall be embracing vulnerability.

the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

According to Brené Brown, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” It is a willingness to show up, even in times of uncertainty and situations that are far from comfortable. It’s putting your true, authentic self out in to the world, and being courageous enough to say “this is me”, knowing that no matter who you are you will be met with harsh criticism and negativity at times.

To be vulnerable is to share every piece of yourself with the world, even the dark gritty pieces we’d rather brush under the rug. We are only human, far from perfect, bound to make mistakes but unwilling to be defined by these mistakes. At times I feel like even writing and sharing these words, fragmented thoughts that go through my mind, creative ideas and little pieces of myself, feels incredibly vulnerable. It has taken some practice and to be entirely honest a lot of holding my breath while I hit the publish button. But here I am, putting myself out there whether you like it or not [I’m going to assume you like it at least enough to keep coming back here, right?]

Every woman has places of shame or pain that we assume are best to just keep quiet about. I feel like women need to be more vulnerable and share their stories with one another. It’s in those hidden places of the past where there are treasures and gifts we need to share with others. Our stories are powerful and in those raw and dark places there is light … and that light needs to shine.
— Joanna Gaines

In an effort to live more vulnerably I will say ‘yes’ to situations that scare me; the ones where that little voice of fear says “why would you do that? we’re so comfortable here. no need to be throwing a wrench in all of it”. I will be open to new experiences and feelings even when it seems like ‘it’s not the right time’ in my life. I will ask for help from others, letting go of my stubborn ways of trying to do everything myself. I will take time to pause and reflect before continuing forward on my path, resisting the stagnation caused by uncertainty. I will live whole heartedly, accepting the risk of pain and heartache. To live vulnerably is not a life lived in a state of reckless abandonment, but a life with less limitations and more acceptance of the stumbles along the way.