Vulnerability on the Horizon
the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Truth or dare.
Thinking back on that cringe-worthy, childhood game where you sat in a circle with all your girlfriends and maybe even some boys, and you had to choose–truth or dare–well…it still makes me cringe. What would I pick: truth or dare? Truth seemed easier off the bat, but ugh, they might ask that one question I DID NOT want to answer in front of the boy I liked or undoubtedly embarrass myself in front of the girls, knowing the whole school would find out on Monday. Or there was the dare. The dare was tricky depending on who was up and who was picking what they’d dare me to do. Was it a peck on the cheek, a dash around the house in less than all of my clothes, or one where I’d eat something I couldn’t even tell what it was?
It was always a tough choice–truth or dare. I didn’t play too many times growing up, but I did kiss a couple of boys because of it. Thinking back on it now, at the core this was a game that forced every player’s hand. If you were playing, at some point you were going to be sharing something or doing something that put you at risk. The risk for embarrassment, harm, or who knows what else. It was basically a training grounds for what we adults call vulnerability.
In an interview I found online, Brene Brown, the woman I have a huge intellectual crush on, defined vulnerability as a place where you experience uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. In the same interview Oprah (do I really need to add Winfrey to that, come on now?) added on how she defines vulnerability: “Being willing to express the truth no matter what…The truth of who you are, the essence at your core, what you’re feeling at any given moment. It’s being able to open up your soul and let it flow so that other people can see their soul in yours.”
These women so eloquently give meaning to the final lane I felt ready to add to the highway that was my own personal growth and development. My journey had grown from a single lane for cautious curiosity to a wider road including a lane for venturing into seeking, and it finally grew to add in a fast lane.
I’d heard someone equate our personal growth as well as how we can think of our children’s development and our parental involvement in expanding lanes on a highway, which I came to understand over multiple years of growth. The expert noted that when we are younger, we need a small one-lane road, flanked by barrier walls to provide much needed support and guidance. But as we grow and develop, we have to allow the lane to expand. We have to allow more free will, more movement by choice, still with guardrails to help provide safety when we wander. But then at some point, we grow to a point where we are capable of staring down an open road with nothing holding us back.
The final expansion for me was a lane destined for vulnerability, and I was ready. I had started off two years before wildly curious about myself and the possibilities in my life. I’d grown so much. I’d made amazing progress. I was stronger than when I started. I was further from what I knew I didn’t want and closer to the things I did.
I’d taken advantage of all the Information Age had to offer and learned new things through reading, listening, or watching only a fraction of the raw data available. I had sifted through it all with intention and found information that suited my needs. Then I’d focused on applying what I learned and experiencing my life as it unfolded, which empowered me to move from simply being curious to having real resolve.
I had resolved to focus on myself, my family, my professional dreams, and all the while holding tight to my faith in God, the Universe, and other wonderful humans that had been placed in my path. I had added lanes to my road; I’d earned more room to explore. Once I’d made it through a year of fearless growth and entered a year of seeking balanced freedom, I found that I could, in fact, be a seeker. I had sought my own potential and the potential of the relationships I chose to be in.
I found the answers I had been seeking as I learned to better hone in on my voice. I had learned that for me, I could not only listen for my voice, my internal intuition, or the Holy Spirit, or whatever I called them, they were serving as my guiding compass. I had learned to give myself the time to go beyond just being aware of my voice to sitting patiently with it. I learned to give myself time to process what I heard, seek help from others if I was struggling to decipher messages, and maybe even share with others before I could finally find the calm answers that I knew in my gut to be the right ones. I had learned that for me seeking was a slower process than I’d imagined it to be, one that if I could hold tight though, would guide me to my truth and the next step in my journey.
My personal growth journey had required time for rest and recovery, time for reflection and redirection as necessary. And each growth spurt required that I had trust buckled in tight. Every choice, every decision, every time I worked through some new opportunity for growth, I honed in on the trust that I was seeking to have with myself. The cycle of growth had collided with the cycle of trust and I never saw an end in sight for that connection.
I had gone through amazing life changes and experienced massive growth in the last couple of years. I’d literally gassed it and knew that I had grown so much, and I’d learned to trust myself when I felt that it was time to take my foot off the pedal and just coast. Trusting myself to slow down hadn’t meant that I was pulling over or turning around. It hadn’t stopped me dead in my tracks. And now that I was entering a lane of my life that was new to me, a lane where there was risk involved, I felt certain I’d be required to trust myself to know how and when to manage that risk, slow down when I needed, and not take the corners of my life on two wheels.
And that new lane began on February 2, 2018, and I entered a new phase in my life–entrepreneurship. It was time to experience life outside of the corporate America I had known. Everything about it was unknown. Would I fail or succeed? Would I be able to pay my mortgage, find insurance, the list went on and on? I was staring my dreams in the eye, and I still didn’t have all the answers.
Even though I was embracing the journey, the truth was, I was white-knuckled at times. But I’d keep going. I’d asked for clarity and had sought the next right steps in my path and I’d arrived at my destination. And now it was time to knock, like Matthew 7:7-8 said. It was time to choose if I was ready to walk up to doors that I had never been to and knock, not having any guarantee of what would be on the other side.
The fear took me way back in time. I was that scared kid all over again having to choose between truth or dare.
Truth or dare, Dena?
I chose truth.
Am I ready? Am I ready to expose myself to risk, uncertainty and emotional distress? Am I ready to share my truth and allow others to see me for who I truly believed I was?
Truth was, I felt confident that I had asked, sought, and now was staring down a tunnel where there was an actual light gleaming back at me, yet I was still scared to move forward. But, truth be told, there was also a feeling of peace. And that peace nudged me to rethink my choice.
What if I picked the dare instead?
Now, hear me when I say, I love Jesus, and I often ask what would Jesus do, but I also wonder this: What would Brene do? And you know what she’d say to do, what her research had taught her that other people who chose a wholehearted way of living would do? They would choose to embrace vulnerability.
I could imagine Brene and Oprah cheering me on, daring me to get my butt in the car and go. They’d tell me to drive toward the light at the end of that tunnel and promise me that if I did, when I did, the light in me would grow brighter and brighter, and the doors that opened would allow me to walk into a life I didn’t know existed. Yet another choice. Did I take their dare? Could I choose to dare?
Heck, yeah I could. I did–and I still do. It was time to say yes to vulnerability, to hit the road and see where my courage would lead me.
It was time to buckle up because it was bound to be a wild and bumpy ride.