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  • Writer's pictureerinwalter

Being or curse?

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

According to Brene Brown, "vulnerability is not winning or loosing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome."

I have rattled with this subject of vulnerability for a while now and after this week I am finally ready to talk about being truly authentic, which for me also means being vulnerable.

I feel that today's society, vulnerability comes with the fear of judgement. To be judged by our peers in person or on line and most likely by others who are not even having the same life experiences.

Do we actually share our most intimate and tender times in our lives that almost broke us in hopes to be seen or to untangle the experience that it in fact may be the experience that strengthen us?

Why would these stories mean anything to another person? Why should we put ourselves in vulnerable situations knowing we have no control of the other person's reaction?

These are all questions I have struggled with myself.

There are major milestones in my life where I reflect to the person I was before the event happened. As you the reader flip through the pages of your life, imagine a day your life changed.

There could be several of those moments. There are definitely many for me. These events can be as massive as you can think or they can be just a spark that altered your life view.

I had a before and after chapter with the death of my mom. Some 36 years ago. At 16 years old I protected my narrative fiercely. The oldest daughter of a public family in a small town, you kept family life very private.

Grieve in silence was the philosophy I was taught.

The first year after my mom's death is really a bit of a blur with only spotlights on a few situations. One of those moments was a male classmate protecting me from a very insensitive English teacher. I use the word protecting because he did that.

He was guarding me from her horrible words.

It was 72 hours after my mom's death where I had not completed an assignment, the first in my life. I felt extremely vulnerable and raw. Exposed to the classroom of students.

I just froze.

I had no excuses I thought, but I did.

I was silent and wanted to be transported to another time. This classmate, stood up for me in a time where students did not speak out of turn with teachers. To this day I do not know what he said to her outside the classroom but I what I can say it was a pivotal point in my grief where one person saw me.

I have several critic moments were I felt truly exposed to my emotions. After giving birth to my first born and not having my mom to support me, unexpected and dramatic career change, uprooting and moving to my private divorce.

During these life events I choose only to be vulnerable to a select few, why...scared to be judged to be honest. So, I navigated alone for the most part. That was the imprint I had in my life and being vulnerable was not an option.

Fast forward to this week where I found myself in a vulnerable situation. I was reminded how far I have come and yet I was fiercely protective of letting my walls come down to trust.

I wanted to control the outcome and I recognized I was doing that.

Taking a deep breath, I leaned into the experience and forever grateful I did.

Over the past 6 months I have boldly stepped into personal conversations, shredding the veil of secrecy that has been the thread throughout my life. I am extremely comfortable to start conversations in my professional life, where I sit in the space to connect people's narratives around end of life discussions. With that lens, six months ago I decided to shred my fear and connect these two aspects of my life and open myself to being truly being authentic in all areas of my life.

I have been told by several individuals this past few months that they have never met someone so willing to be authentic and how straightforward as I am. At first, I was slightly offended and started to build my walls back up, then I reminded myself if I want to have authentic connections then I need to be authentic as well.

For me the times I choose to show up regardless, were those times I was just Erin.

I have had the most beautiful moments and experiences when I am true to myself.

I do feel there are multiple layers to us as humans and it is up to us to peel them back.

It's part of the human experience. That is not to say some layers are more painful than others however there are also awakenings that I'm so glad I experienced too.

It takes courage to be vulnerable. I do this for my 16 yr old self, she felt unworthy, not seen, disconnected and not heard.

If someone had said to me, that some of the most incredible experiences would have been when I was most myself maybe my life's journey would have been different.

However I would not change a thing. Vulnerability has been a gift.

I am leaning in, diving boldly into amazing opportunities, meeting the most real, honest and inspiring people and stepping into the best chapters of my life because I'm being vulnerable. I love the person I am becoming.

I challenge you to lean into vulnerability.

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