“During my talk I asked the audience two questions that reveal so much about the many paradoxes that define vulnerability. First I asked, “How many of you struggle to be vulnerable because you think of vulnerability as weakness?” Hands shot up across the room. Then I asked, “When you watched people on this stage being vulnerable, how many of you thought it was courageous?” Again, hands shot up across the room.
We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing. I was afraid to walk on that stage and show the audience my kitchen-table self – these people were too important, too successful, too famous. My kitchen-table self is too messy, too imperfect, too unpredictable.
Here’s the crux of the struggle:
I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.
I’m drawn to your vulnerability but repelled by mine.”