Vulnerability, Courage, & Shame: Courage to be Imperfect

Editors note: Part 3 of the Operation No Shame blogging series Vulnerability, Courage, & Shame

To be vulnerable means that we let ourselves be seen – every part of us, yet shame stops us from showing our authentic selves because of a fear that we are not worthy of a connection.  Our pasts, the baggage we carry, our differences, the quarks we cannot filter, our mistakes, the passions, and our little wins all warp into a beautiful mess – one that is worthy of a connection. Everyone is worthy, but we need the courage to be vulnerable so a true connection can spark.

Does that mean everyone has to be friends with everyone? No. Loyalty, trust, a share of interests, and geography all play a role in what makes good friends. But no one deserves to feel like less of a person because of WHO THEY ARE or WHERE THEY ARE FROM or WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH.

“People who have a strong sense of loving and belonging believe that they are worthy of love and belonging. They believe they are worthy,” said Dr. Brene Brown on the topic of shame in her Ted Talk: Power of Vulnerability.

In order for people to be vulnerable, society must be accepting of people’s baggage or mess.  With acceptance –  we build courage, with courage – we allow vulnerability, with vulnerability – we shed the shame.

It can start with you no matter which side of the possible connection you reside on.

The original definition of courage when it first came into the English language read, “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” My mind was blown when I heard Dr. Brown discuss the origin of the term because I’ve never heard anyone use it in this form.

Prior to hearing that definition, my brain used to hear “courage” and associated it with remarkable, brave, and extreme acts performed by soldiers, advocates, protesters, nurses, teachers, athletes, the list goes on… When I thought of myself having courage, it seemed to be much less impressive. I associated it with public speaking, introducing myself to strangers, asking a boy for his number, or blogging a personal post.

I want to shout out my story in its entirety: the beauty, the mess, the taboo, the adventure, the struggle, the fun, the shame, the aftermath, the love, and the resilience.

It’s a cool story.  But I haven’t yet.  The timing has always been off. But honestly, if I had all day every day – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. Why? Because that’s scary shit. Am I right? Telling your story with your whole heart… My initial response is “What would people say? How would people act around me? Would I be desirable for a connection?” Therefore, I’ve come to believe that there is nothing more remarkable, brave, and extreme than telling your story.


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