“Vulnerability is the Birthplace of Connection”

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.” Brené Brown

Illustration Credit: Giulia Rosa

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection.” Anyone who becomes close to me,  comes to learn that I have a deep adoration of words. However, when I first saw this sentence – the Brené Brown statement – that serves as the title of this post, I was absolutely appalled. How dare someone piece those words together to produce such a sentence? It reminds me of when I initially started practicing yoga. In 2012, I first started practicing Bikram yoga. There was a particular pose that I couldn’t “nail” (I wouldn’t use such language to describe yoga anymore!) – standing-head-to-knee-pose (Dandayamana Janushirasana). Whenever this came up in the sequence, I would try to do something that mimicked it or constantly pretended to fall and look away from the mirror (If you Bikram, you know). Anyway, one day, my favorite Libra-Scorpio cusper, Billy, shared that he thought my practice was graceful and beautiful, but he saw spaces for improvement in regards to alignment in the balancing portion of the standing series. He finished the conversation by saying, “You know, the pose you most resist or detest is usually the one you need the most.” I swear to you that sentence shifted some neural pathways – because whenever I now attempt to resist anything in life, no matter how hard the resistance gets, I  eventually lean and surrender into the discomfort, the pain, the suffering.

It was hard to sleep while in OKC. Maybe it was the time zone change or perhaps it was the fact that I was missing my weighted blanket. Regardless of the reason, I was able to get a solid 4 hours and have a fruitful visit. I also met an incredible mentor and colleague – extremely experienced in my field! (More about her on another post). Life on the road – what else is new?

I connected via Denver and when I arrived to my gate, there were no seats left. My bag felt unusually heavy – probably from a lack of sleep/meals. It wasn’t a big deal because boarding was supposed to start within the half hour. Out of the blue, a guy offered me his seat. I wanted to turn it down, but decided against it. “Thank you.” I said as I sat down (boarding ended up being delayed!). Though accepting someone’s offer to have a seat may not seem like much, I’ve learned (from other areas of life) that when you take daily baby steps it usually leads to huge change. I have major issues receiving, which stems from not having a strong sense of worthiness. By accepting little acts of kindness from strangers on the daily, I am quite literally teaching my brain that “It is safe and healthy to receive. I am worthy of receiving.” 

The first class upgrade made the ride home breezy. I must say – though I don’t enjoy jet-setting (and haven’t met a person that actually does!), there are major benefits to having airline status. (Ps. Jet-setting and traveling are NOT the same – if you’d like to know the difference, feel free to hit me up and I’ll gladly explain!). During the flight, there were two guys diagonally across from me that were having a conversation. One was a younger guy (late twenty’s to early thirties) and the other was middle aged (late fifties to early sixties). The middle aged guy was a Global Service Member – United’s super secret top tier – the most exclusive airline status out there! The younger guy was a 1K – 1K is still an elite status, but it’s public (if you wanna talk status – also contact me! :P). Anyway, the main conversation revolved around travel. The middle aged guy had been to almost all countries (as recognized by the UN). The younger guy wants to take his girlfriend on a dream vacation because he has half a million miles on United and half a million miles on Marriott. Sounds impressive, but if you’re always on the go, you get there in no time! The younger guy was asking the older guy what his favorite country was. Of course the middle aged guy responded with Italy! Florence in particular.

The young guy then moved on to express fear. He wanted to take his girlfriend on vacation, but was afraid that what he had to offer wasn’t going to be enough for her because she came from an extremely wealthy background. Vulnerabilitly. As the conversation carried on, I closed my eyes and tuned out. I thought about how openly this guy was expressing his feelings of vulnerability to another man. It was deeply touching. My heart felt a little softer after hearing that conversation. From my hearts eye, regardless of how they fly or where they stay, I think that his girlfriend will be deeply appreciative of the gesture! And then I realized – VULNERABILITY! Two people created a bond on a flight that only continued to deepen as the flight went on. Why and how did that occur? Vulnerability was at the heart of this connection and without it, they would have probably cordially sat next to each other without a simple exchange of words. There never would have been a deeper connection.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection. While my logical brain would like to keep this under the “bizarre phrases” category, I’m starting to realize that there is truth to it (Dr. Brown has plenty of research to support it’s reason!). It’s ok to rest. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to receive. It’s ok to say: I’m tired. I’m sorry. I feel ugly. I feel dumb. I’m lonely. I feel lost. I feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m not good enough. It is not only safe and okay, but vital to do this in the presence of others we trust. I feel less than perfect and that’s okay because in spite of it, I AM WHOLLY HUMAN.  And you know what’s the coolest part of this all? That in sharing (your sharing or my sharing), I may come to realize, that often you feel like this too. You and I we’re not all that different and we’re not vacuum-sealed alone.

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