Vulnerability is Scary. Someone Should Probably Bring Wine. (Or, How to Be Brave This Valentine’s Day.)

(Photo of my sister and me, circa 1984. I’m the littler one.)

“It is man’s social nature which distinguishes him from the brute creation. If it is his privilege to be independent, it is equally his duty to be inter-dependent. Only an arrogant man will claim to be independent of everybody else and be self-contained.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Confession:  I don’t have it all figured out.

This might be obvious to the rest of you, but for someone who’s spent most of her life pretending like she’s got it all together, making a public declaration that I don’t have all the answers is kind of a big deal.

I’ve put a lot of energy into acting fully competent all the time, denying uncertainty and refusing to acknowledge that sometimes – a lot of times – I JUST DON”T KNOW.

And believing I have to go it alone, certain that asking for help must surely signify weakness.

Well, guess what, guys? It doesn’t.

We are absolutely designed for connection and collaboration and companionship. For integration and joint efforts and community. And for carrying each other when one of us stumbles.

Making mistakes and not knowing things and losing your way are the essence of being human. And when we defiantly refuse to seek out support in times of confusion or uncertainty or apparent failure, we are denying the people who love us the opportunity to care for us and lift us up – which, if we’re hanging with the right crowd, is all they really want to do anyway.

Of course, letting people love us requires us to embrace vulnerability.

Which is super scary, I know. Believe me, I’ve spent enough time avoiding vulnerability to know that consciously inviting it into your life can be an enormously terrifying thing to consider.

And can go against everything you’ve been taught to value.

As Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” An idea that seems to contradict the majority of what is touted as brave in our modern society – namely, invincibility, absolute independence, and complete emotional control. Being unshakeable. Impenetrable. Totally together.

I’m here to tell you that the concept of ever being invulnerable is entirely composed of lies.

It has taken me 30+ years to fully comprehend the benefit of reaching out, of prioritizing connection, of admitting I’m sometimes an emotional mess who gets lost and makes mistakes and questions everything.

And needs help when she does.

But letting people love me has completely changed my life. In the best of ways.

It has also, admittedly, revealed to me relationships – with friends and lovers – I’ve needed to release by exposing love that was clearly conditional and uninterested in vulnerability.

A process that has been difficult at times, but has ultimately been in my best interest.

All of this to say:  Find your people, the ones who love you without question, who listen to and see your truth without judging or shaming, who meet your vulnerability with their own, with whom you can take turns doing the heavy lifting and the crying and the carrying and the showing up with chocolate and wine.

Let your people love you.

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Which seems like the perfect time to start.

And watch this video, which reveals how our stress response demonstrates that we really are wired for human connection: