Vulnerability TED, an action figure I admire.

Just joking about the name, but the admiration is true. Brené Brown is also known as ‘Vulnerability TED’ for her amazing and inspirational TED talk on vulnerability. Her speech about vulnerability resonated with me – I guess many of us have experienced the struggle of trying to conquer life and disseminate fragility, only to  realize that all the efforts were in vain.

All my life I have tried  to put my head up and stay strong, while  all the negative emotions and fragility went to my secret landfill, buried deep in my heart. It worked for a while, until it all burned down into debris.

Trite as it seems, it is true: it is only when we embrace our vulnerability that we can live wholeheartedly. More than often, when we experience negative emotions – sadness, frustration, anger, hatred etc., we suppress it so deep in our heart that we do not want it to ever see the light of the day again, so that we can present ourselves to others as strong, powerful and independent beings. However, as I quote from Sigmund Freud, ‘ Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.’ By hiding away our emotions, we are only feeding it with fear and making it become stronger. Indeed, it can prove challenging to accept that we have our weaknesses, not to mention to expose our fragile self to others. 

We are all human – we have our own strengths and weaknesses. We may find pride in our achievements, and shame in areas we are less capable. However, the fear of being judged due to being ‘weak’ and fragile makes us even more vulnerable. We expand fear by being afraid of the fear, and the vicious cycle goes on.It takes great courage to step forward and say hello to your own vulnerability, rather than devoting efforts to hide it away in a shadowed corner, but it is what makes us whole, and helps us have greater capability to embrace who we truly are and just be genuine.

Imagine this: a close friend of yours revealed to you that she had some issues that made her feel low. What would you say? Would you demonstrate care and empathy, or would you tell her to just stay strong and put her head up? It is okay to be not okay, as we always say. So why do you have to put on your armour of iron and steel when you do not expect the same from others? It takes great courage to say the words ‘I am not okay’, because it can be scary, not knowing what response you would get in return. It truly takes a leap of faith to start revealing your vulnerable side, but it gets easier as you go along.

Here’s the reason for my admiration of Brené Brown: I admire her not just because she sheds light on the importance of embracing vulnerability, but also because of her courage to share her experience of failure in front of a huge audience of strangers. Her willingness to stay authentic even in such a stressful setting moved me and made her an idol of mine.

Well, I guess it shall be a life mission for many of us: learning to embrace our own vulnerability, our failures, our mistakes, our fears and all the uncertainties in life. By embracing our true, vulnerable self, we are helping ourselves to be even more fearless, and be ready to take on more challenges than ever.

Link to the TED talk: Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability