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Learning the art of vulnerability

There are a few things I detest with great fervor. I detest liver. With onions or otherwise. I’d rather lick an ashtray.  I loathe liars. For all the obvious reasons. I abhor the Atlanta Braves because they are in my division and every social media fight I’ve ever been in has been with a Braves fan.

But most of all, I hate feeling vulnerable.

My morning motto is to wake up, kick-ass, repeat. There’s no room in there for vulnerability. And if there ever was, well I became quite adept at hiding it.  I’m just stubborn enough that I want to be able to do it all on my own and keep my nicely built emotional walls up and let nary a soul in.

The problem is, that life doesn’t work like that.

One of the great misfortunes of the social media age is that we all appear to have these perfect lives. I rarely see anyone post a pic of the big zit they woke up with. Because for all intents and purposes, we equate being human somehow with weakness. But that’s not true. Even Sigmund Freud once said, “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”

Learning the art of being vulnerable opens up our lives to all the greatest possibilities of it’s potential.

Here are three areas where it’s okay to be vulnerable.

1. It’s okay to need a person in lieu of a pint of Chunky Monkey.

Being vulnerable once led me to a whole world of hurt which took me literal YEARS to overcome.  And the only reason why I was able to overcome that time was that I finally admitted I couldn’t do it by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I was the only person who could save me, with a lot of hard work and determination.  But I was in so far over my head, that until I let someone begin helping me, I was unable to even help myself.

It was such an awkward feeling. It literally created ridiculous anxiety to the point of flop sweat and the shakes.  Now I think the people who helped me are like “enough already! NO! You can’t borrow my truck to move again.” 😉

It also really pisses me off when I have to change a flat tire and if one of the lug-nuts is on too tight and I have to actually call…gasp…a man. I pride myself on being able to change my tires if need be. I will jump up and down on a crowbar for two hours before I give in and make a call.

Even worse, and the thing I’ve hated most of all at times in my life, is when I’ve needed financial help. I have a dear friend who bought me and my kids plane tickets for Christmas one year so we could all be together for the holidays. It was so incredibly humbling, but that’s the thing about her, she was a joyful giver. She impacted our lives and my kids got to see the kindness and generosity of another human being. It was beautiful, just like she is.

So, for all you stubborn people out there, allowing people to help you, even if it’s as simple as them listening to you when you need to spew the worry that plagues your mind, it allows the giver to receive beautiful blessings. Think about the times you’ve helped someone and how good you feel afterward.

2. It’s okay to look like an idiot.

If there is one vulnerability lesson I’ve learned, this is it. And can I say my life got exponentially better once I understood?  Many of you may have read about one of my core touchstones in my life which is the ability to “Sacrifice the Queen.”  You can read it here if you like. But I finally arrived at a point where I moved from saying “why?”, to “why not?”

I love experiencing new places. I love trying new things. I love pushing myself so far outside my comfort zone that you’d think I’d need an oxygenated space suit. I have no problems walking in someplace by myself and making a new dozen friends or so. Some of my favorite friends and moments have been when I’ve had the balls enough to go it alone. I even enjoy traveling alone because it makes you open up to new people and new experiences.

And I’ve never minded looking stupid.  Sucking at something is the first step to being really great at something. And I started to learn that most of the time, that’s where all the fun is. If you can just let go of worrying about what other people think for two shakes and give it a try.

This past weekend, I rode bicycles in downtown Austin to a concert. It was easier than attempting to park close to the packed venue. But it’s definitely not the type of bike I’m used to. Any bike I’ve ever owned could have a basket of flowers attached to it and it would look completely at home. But that’s not what you get when you date a daredevil who believes brakes are pussy pedals.

When we got back to the parking garage after the concert, and after lots of vodkas and I think there was some tequila in there somewhere, I go to make my attempt to stop, after crushing it the whole time like a boss, I totally busted it. Here’s a recreation of the event.

Ok, it didn’t actually happen like that. Basically, I just fell over. I don’t even know how, but I fell over, hard. I have the monster bruise to prove. But…it was hilarious. In hindsight, I think maybe I should have been embarrassed, but I just can’t be. I had so much fun.

And I’m definitely certain it won’t be my last crash since I am having to give up running, so my time on a bike is about to increase. Afterward, I kept bragging about my first “gnarly crash”, a la Matthew McConaughey. Hence why included the clip so you could hear the voice in my head. Well, one of them.

A couple of days later I got to try surfing in a lake. I sucked at that too! But oh man, was it fun.

3. It’s okay to be who you are.

Stop trying to know everything, look perfect, be perfect, and feel perfect. Fuck perfect. It doesn’t exist. Be you. That’s the coolest thing ever. It’s okay to be strong and independent and confident. But guess what? It’s okay to have your moments where you may need reassurance or help if you are feeling scared or alone. We all have those times. We are a yin and yang. We have the good days and the bad days, and the bad days make us just as human as the good days.

We don’t have to carry around a facade or build big walls around our hearts.

I really think one of the greatest lessons in my life right now has been experiencing the vulnerability of loving someone but even bigger than that is becoming vulnerable enough to let them love me back.  That’s a new one in my life. I’ve never had that before and so I never realized something could make me feel so exhilarated and so utterly terrified at the exact same moment. I am quite literally, a fish out of water.

But then again, isn’t that the whole point? Step out of your comfort zone and into vulnerability and watch the magic happen. Bask in the glory of your awkwardness, and Carpe the fuck out of that Diem.

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