I originally published this article on Medium. Read it here.
I recently watched Brené Brown’s TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” and was finally able to hear eloquently spoken what I feel I’ve been grasping at for a few years now: that people who allow themselves to be vulnerable are happier.
But let’s back up for a second.
Lately I’ve been struggling to understand why it is I’m drawn to certain people and repelled by others; or rather why I’m drawn to certain behaviors. And I’ve realized that what it usually comes down to is feeling like someone has an authentic intention to connect.
Connection is what drives humans from the core – we all crave it and we all need it to survive. Yet something that truly holds us back from being as connected as we’d like (wonderfully stated by Brene Brown) isthe fear that we are not worthy of connection. And that fear is the definition of shame.
Shame is a dark spiral created and maintained by humans. It’s something that nobody is supposed to talk about, yet the more we don’t talk about it the more shameful it becomes.
And we all have shame. Shame in our past. Shame in our bodies. In our choices. In our mistakes. In our failures. Even in our successes. Shame is so completely everpresent in our lives that it has begun to take precedent over connection – and that which will inevitably make us truly happy.
Connection has taken a back seat to image, to perception, and to perfection. Shame has overshadowed connecting and it’s affecting the way we live our lives, while vulnerability is now seen as the ultimate weakness.
The two people in this world who I consider to be my best friends are two of the most vulnerable, imperfect people I know. They have each uniquely, but equally, opened their hearts and minds to me, sharing the dark corners of their souls as well as the blindingly bright meadows of their hearts. I’ve seen these two people in their darkest moments – and they did not hide their sadness. They didn’t allow shame to enter the room – they sat with their feelings, they looked at me in their pain, and they accepted imperfection into their lives.
And even in little moments – daily – their vulnerability shines. They are authentic. They feel everything. They accept their situations. They are completely imperfect and yet stunningly beautiful in the exact same moment.
And the very thing that repulses me in people – the lack of vulnerability – is something I’ve been struggling with my entire life. Having my vulnerability suppressed was part of a seemingly normal childhood. Yet it’s that inate normalcy that is now impeding on the potential for my life to open up in the way it could.
Writing these words is the beginning of a long journey to crush the fear of disconnection, and to increase my confidence that I am worthy of connection. Everyone is worthy of connection.
We are worthy of authenticity. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of happiness. We are worthy of ridding our lives of shame and opening up our whole hearts.
We should no longer feel shame for our imperfections. Regardless of what they are, they will never make you unworthy of connection.