02 Jun The unexpected perks of revealing your weaknesses.
Before all this*, when I was still living solely in a world of performance and measurement, I had a run-in with somebody I very much admired. She had made a piece of theatre (which I thought was brilliant) and felt I had snubbed her afterwards. I hadn’t congratulated her – infact she felt I had been rude and cold. She had found me arrogant and detached.
This may well have been a valid appraisal of what she saw on the outside.
But inside I was falling apart, so desperate to be liked, for my work to be liked, that I rarely dared make any true connections. Least of all with someone I respected. I was trying to hold it together, to keep up appearances, to stop the veneer from cracking and others from being able to see the truth. I didn’t engage with people I didn’t know well, especially those who’s opinion I really valued, for fear of making an embarrassment of myself, getting it wrong and looking like a fool.
Some time passed, and we got past this incident, and, starting with a few drinks at a mutual friends’ birthday, we created the basis for friendship.
But interestingly, it is since I have started writing this blog and become vulnerable about where I am at, been honest about my struggles and weakness and uncertainty, we have truly connected. We exchange ideas, and I greatly value her opinion and thoughts. She is the person who sends me the most interesting articles or points me in the direction of some artist that she knows I would find enjoyable and provoking. She is a great encouragement to me and I feel her cheering me on.
Brene Brown says, in conversation with Krista Tippett in the OnBeing podcast** (and I’m paraphrasing here), that when we meet people the first, or the main thing we are looking for is vulnerability. Because that allows us to feel true connection.
Of course the paradox is when we initially meet someone vulnerability is the last thing we are keen to display. We want to look strong, or beautiful or clever. To appear as though we have got it all together. We think this makes us attractive.
Oh how wrong we are.
There are moments in life when you naturally make new friends – when you start school, or university, or when you have a baby or start a new job perhaps- but outside of these environments and circumstances making new friends isn’t always easily done.
I can honestly say that in the past two years I have made new made more friends and connected with old friends in new and increasingly more meaningful ways, than at any other time I can remember.
The people I have spent time with, either virtually or in person, have been honest and beautiful.
Making myself vulnerable and exposing the things I battle, rather than exposing me as weak or flaky, has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.
It has been unexpected and joyous.
* And by all this i mean, having some kind of breakdown (or as Brene Brown calls it ‘a mid-life unravelling’), getting help, learning new stuff and writing it in this blog. If you are new to this blog the story really starts here.
** You can find this episode of the OnBeing podcast here