At one time or another, you have felt discomfort. Perhaps you were confronted with a situation where you felt the need to hide away, to not have your flaws revealed. Picture this: You are sitting in a weekly meeting at work with your manager and colleagues. You are not the world's most proficient public speaker and yet, your manager calls upon you to share your thoughts about a new policy implemented. You have strong feelings against the new policy and valid reasons why. You begin to speak and your voice shakes. You stutter and even spill some of your coffee while you (reluctantly) share your perspective. Your face begins to redden.
Ladies, gentleman and gender non-conforming individuals, welcome to a dose of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is nakedness (in the metaphorical sense, but not always...). Vulnerability is the voice that cracks and stumbles, with the possibility of ridicule. Let's face it: it's terrifying!
But, let's look at it a different way: What if vulnerability is the graceful, courageous, empathy-building muscle that turns our fear into opportunity? What if we speak our truth no matter the self-conscious side effects? What if we fiercely and unapologetically sit with discomfort?
The "What Ifs?" can be answered with a poem:
The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing. It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive. It doesnt interest me what planets are squaring your moon... I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to be realistic to remember the limitations of being human. It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes." It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children. It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back. It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments." Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-invitation-by-oriah-mountain-dreamer
Oriah Mountain Dreamer. "The Invitation." Family Friend Poems, 2006. https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-invitation-by-oriah-mountain-dreamer