Often in life being vulnerable can bring about feelings of discomfort and uneasiness. I recently ran across a TED talk by Brené Brown, where she encouraged audiences to lean into feelings of guilt and shame, and through these excruciating feelings we would find worthiness and a sense of whole heartedness.
Like any human being I too often avoid feelings vulnerability, so I was quite the pessimist when I initially listened to what Brown had to say. After reflecting on this TED talk I to reflected on times in my life when I felt vulnerable, and what the outcome was when I embraced these feelings.
18 Candles: Since I turned eighteen, life has not been the easiest. Because I am from a family of six kids, my mother had me at a very late age. She was 45, which meant that by the time I was 18 my mother was 63. You can imagine like any parents that had been parenting for the last 37 years, they were beyond excited about their empty nest.
Two weeks after my high school graduation, I was in a moving truck, on my way out to Colorado to live with my sisters for the rest of summer.
You know when you take a new born baby and try to see if it can stand on its own, but really it’s a newborn baby, so it just falls and hits its face? Yeah that was me. How do I get a job? How do I support myself? How do I pay taxes? How do I pay for groceries? These were now stresses that consumed my worries of life.
Masks: I am not telling you these life events to feel sorry for me, but to give you a little background on where I started to develop Masks. I was beginning to be hardwired to always seem like I had it all together.
I remember that Christmas going home, and my Aunt Kathy pulling me aside to ask how I was. At that time, I had just gotten back from living in Norway for the last three months after I had convinced myself I was going to live forever, but was asked to leave by my host family.I was secretly dating someone much older than me that I was working with, and there were countless secrets I was keeping from the world.
You can only imagine the twitch in my eye when my response to Aunt Kathy was, “I am great. I love living in Colorado!!!”As time went on, the habit of wearing masks became a normal everyday thing that seeped into all of my being and authenticity.
As I got older the secrets got a lot less juicier, but I still found myself with the habit of wearing masks in my daily life. You see, I have had to support myself throughout college, which has meant that the entire time I have been in school I have somehow managed to keep a full time job while being in school full time.
At the end of last year I was promoted for the the third time at Wells Fargo. My manager pulled me aside one day and said, “I have a plan for you. Once you graduate, I am going to make you a private banker, and we are going to train you to become a financial advisor.”
Taking The Masks Away: Just recently while reading, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I stopped and ask myself, “Jonay, if I were to die today what would people say at my funeral.” (There is a chapter that refers to “Think with the end in mind”) The answer to that was, ” Jonay was a busy, stressed out, unfulfilled, crazy lady”.I was working full time, was in school full time, and had a dog. I somehow convinced everyone I was managing it all, while in the inside I was an internal wreck.
Vulnerability: This is when I sat myself down, and truly let myself be vulnerable to me. I had the courage to seek what my whole heart wanted. I let myself be kind to me for once. Lastly, I let go of what my parents, peers, and society said I should be, and dug into what I wanted to be.
The Outcome of Leaning Into Vulnerability: Since I was little I have always imagined myself doing something big. Growing up I was a dreamer. I always imagined myself as a fashion designer, President, a CEO. Here I was, in my current position at Wells, at the brink of boxing myself in to what I was going to do for the rest of my life.
I quit Wells Fargo about a month and a half ago. While I still don’t fully understand what the repercussions will be for leaving that job, I know that being vulnerable for the first time in a long time feels great. I am okay with not knowing whats next because I do know I will learn to love myself and others, and I will learn to find what truly brings me joy. Being vulnerable is about standing up for yourself. Life isn’t to be lived in a cubicle. Life is to learn.