Vulnerability has always been at the center of my life. From the time I was little I was always a homebody and never wanted to do anything. Whether it was going to school or going out to do things on the weekends, I always begged my parents to just let me stay home. Vulnerability is being easily hurt or attacked, which is exactly what I was afraid of, and still struggle with today. Even though I know I won’t be “hurt” or “attacked” necessarily, I still struggle with not wanting to go to parties or school events if I won’t know anyone and or think I’m going to feel out of my element. So in some senses you may say I’m always vulnerable, that the person who never wants to do anything actually is my true self and that I constantly need to fight my true self in order to be satisfied with life.
I have lots of examples running through my head, many of which illustrate the idea that if you just put yourself out there you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised. I actually want to talk about a time I pushed through my vulnerability and it didn’t quite payoff. I had no interest in joining a fraternity my freshman year, but sophomore year I decided to rush a business fraternity. I mean why not? It’s the perfect networking opportunity. When I got to the orientation night where we met everyone, I immediately felt uncomfortable. Wearing a suit, going around to try and brag about my resume to a bunch of people who were judging me, and being surrounded by other people trying to do the same thing. It’s not that anyone was hostile or anything, but my personality just couldn’t stand a situation like this. I did it anyway and made it through just fine. I thought for sure that I would get in, especially since a couple people had told me I shouldn’t have any trouble. A couple of days later I got rejected, which I was a little bummed about, but the experience taught me a lesson about the world: it’s competitive, and sometimes you’re going to lose, but you still have to lean into vulnerability because otherwise you’re going to crumble under all of the pressure. I’ve found that this applies to my internship search as well. I’m still a finance novice but I keep looking for opportunities, going to interviews, and learning where I can improve. Even though it’s not in my nature to be competitive, that’s the only option in this case.
Vulnerability is part of everyone. It’s a natural feeling, but it’s one you have to fight. That being said, I found it interesting how much research has been done on companies needing to embrace vulnerability, because it’s the key to employee engagement. And that makes total sense: companies are run by people, and therefore it’s important that we embrace human nature in its entirety. I saw this at play during my corporate finance internship last summer. My company treated everyone well and respected everyone’s ideas, which really helped in creating an efficient workplace where people felt included. Even at my job now, everyone treats each other with respect and helps out where they can, making for a workplace that’s actually pretty fun. So while I continue to work on my vulnerability issues, I hope everyone can recognize that we’re all human and treating everyone with respect is the key to success. I know that’s horribly cliché, but isn’t it kind of true?