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Do You Just Go Out There, Stay Inside, Or Do You Check The Weather First?
By Jean Harper

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable. ~ Madeleine L ’Engle

My astrology sign is Cancer with the symbol of the crab.  As you probably know, if you know any Cancerians, we are sensitive, often self-protective, and retreat into ourselves (our built-in shell) when hurt or scared.  In observing the small crabs on the beach they are quite vulnerable even with the shell that they carry around; just venturing out of their hole makes them prey to the birds flying above or the many feet walking toward them on the beach.

From the earliest time I can remember, and up until the age of 12 years, I would describe myself as shy and introverted.  I read a lot of children’s books which triggered my imagination.  I spent my days imagining my life resembling something out of a Disney movie. Being “inside myself” and with my imagination, I could control the outcome of events.  It felt safe and comfortable.  My imagination took me outside and wandering  a long way from home which made me really vulnerable and when I look back now, I am lucky that I didn’t get myself into trouble.  I was shy, but I had “moxy”, even then.

One hot, summer day, when I was 13 years old, I went swimming with one of my best friends, Linda.  In her excitement, Linda jumped into the deep end of the pool and didn’t know how to swim.  She began to flail about and cried out for help.  I could swim, not all that great, but I could swim, so I jumped in to save her.  I can still remember her pushing me under the water.  In her panic to raise herself above the water, Linda didn’t realize that she was close to drowning me—the one trying to save her!  Gasping for air, I somehow managed to reach the side of the pool, grab the edge, and pull her and me to safety.  I put myself out there to save her life but in retrospect I should have held on to the side of the pool or thrown her a life ring to keep us both safe from drowning. 

When I say I put myself “out there” what I mean is that I let myself be vulnerable.  Being vulnerable rewarded me by allowing me to really connect with others even though it often led me down a path of disappointment, pain, and exposure from betrayal.  It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable, but I learned that you have to embrace your vulnerability with boundaries and trust.  Vulnerability is about sharing your feelings and your experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Yes, I have learned to check the weather first before I venture out.

Having spent most of my career life in the corporate world I have met many who seem to numb their vulnerability.  It makes it easy to be less than authentic when one has to dress and act a certain way in order to stay in line to achieve their goals, get that promotion, or just to keep their job.  When you are stuffed in a business suit how can you really be yourself?   

I have always believed that what makes a person vulnerable also makes them beautiful. I have never been afraid to be the first to say, “I love you”, surrender, and walk into a relationship (friendship or romantic) that may or may not work out.  Even though I have known pain, I have also known joy, and found meaning in my life by allowing myself to be vulnerable.

The landscape of my personal life has changed dramatically over the last few years. Most of the people I draw into my life today are either living or searching for authenticity and balance.  My current, love relationship is not just about the physical presence of another but more of a spiritual and emotional connection.  My friendships are fewer, yet deeper.  I spend my money more mindfully with a goal of achieving far greater abundance and moving beyond any signs of greed.  I want to live in harmony with the environment and make a difference.  I am still vulnerable, but I have learned when and where to hold on to the side of the pool. 

I still get out there, stay inside at times, but I do check the weather before I leave home without my umbrella. 


View Video: Brene Brown: The Power of vulnerability

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” ― Brené Brown



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