40 Lessons at 40

Lesson #35

By Venus Souls

A Letter to My Future Self:

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: you used to think vulnerability was such a dirty word. What started off as an innocent writing exercise became an in-depth study of your multifaceted self and your stranger-than-fiction life. In very much ‘your style’, you had decided to enter your 40s having completely accepted and aligned yourself to a higher version of you that was still becoming, rising from the ashes of this old self that never really had her chance under the sun. And look at what you are doing now!

From what you had gathered, vulnerability meant not hiding. Not lying. Not running away no matter what was threatening you in the moment. Just being truly, authentically, unapologetically and generously yourself and present, come what may. For years, this terrified you.

You had figured that being vulnerable meant putting down your weapons and tearing down your walls and giving more of yourself than you take from others. You learnt that in order to be vulnerable you had to learn to share parts of yourself and trusting them with others despite knowing you could get hurt in the process

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” 

Brené Brown

No one said it would be easy. Even our brains want to protect us from such fragility. Simply recalling and retelling times when you felt most vulnerable proved to be the most painful exercise you had to do.

We make ourselves vulnerable every day as soon as we wake up, interact with our loved ones, go to work, go to the gym, go out with friends… You didn’t notice it any more because your fortress was high and your walls were strong. You didn’t let your son see how much it hurt you when he kept trying to prove you wrong (he never succeeded, for the record). You didn’t show your co-workers your panic when you didn’t know how to solve a problem. You didn’t show your stress when dealing with too many things at the same time until it was too late and you couldn’t hide your overwhelm anymore.

You got so good at not acknowledging vulnerability that you thought it was called strength and resilience and grit but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Woman, you learnt the truth the hard way.

You understood that the strongest people you knew – the ones whose strength did not make them bitter but better, were the ones whom had transformed their pain into giving energy, turned their hearts inside out, and in the moments where there were forces telling them to shrink and disappear, they had spread wings they did not know they had and soared to touch stars that had their names on them.

You noticed that there wasn’t a single star constellation in the sky that isn’t named after a figure that didn’t display vulnerability and courage despite it all.

You had spent many years building walls and carrying weapons thinking it was the best way to grow tough and face life’s challenges. The tougher the challenges the higher you made your walls. Until you ended up isolating yourself because you could no longer communicate without feeling unheard or misunderstood. You built walls so high and forgot to build windows and doors. You trapped yourself and no one was able to see what’s inside of you anymore. Not even you.

But here’s the most beautiful thing  about vulnerability: it’s contagious. It connects. When you start with it, it ignites something in people around you. Suddenly people see themselves through one another, that being open connects us to each other and we see the beauty within. You cannot be vulnerable and judgemental. It’s not possible. The more open you allow yourself to be, the less you are able to practise your old prejudices and skepticism. People judge because they’re scared. When people are scared, they become loud and deaf, stuck in their own echo chamber.  

I’ve heard you say this to yourself time and again: courage, dear heart, courage. Courage to stay open and to give love unconditionally and without expectation of getting anything in return. Courage to forgive those who mistake this vulnerability for weakness. Courage to be and stay vulnerable no matter the outcome. Courage to speak up and speak loud even when your voice shakes.

Courage is not the absence of fear but to do the thing that scares you despite the fear and do it wholeheartedly.

Vulnerability takes a lot of practise. Like going to the gym and exercising your vulnerability muscle until it comes to you naturally.

The irony is, you didn’t discover the power of vulnerability until you had hit rock bottom. You thought your heart had broken beyond repair. But when this happened, you finally let go. Your walls collapsed and your weapons disappeared. You had made a decision: enough. You walked into the light with a trembling heart that was wide open because you figured, there’s nothing more to lose.

In fact you learnt that you won and gained more than you could ever had imagined.

When you embraced your vulnerability, you gave yourself permission to be who you were. When you saw and heard your truth, you learnt how to honour yourself and shed away guilt, shame and scarcity of emotions. You took parts of yourself out of the darkness and put them in the light to heal and to grow. You took risks knowing that the alternative was to die. Only then did you own your story. And when you owned your story, you became your own heroine.

I have no doubt that in the future you will still be battling with your vulnerability. Life, after all, is constantly testing our resilience and courage. Remember that strength does not come from building high walls to hide behind or carrying heavy weaponry to defend ourselves. Your power comes from your absolute conviction that no matter what, you are going to show up, bravely authentic and imperfect, with a true sense of belonging wherever you stand – and when you stand you stand in your power: a source of love, hope, empathy, resourcefulness and accountability. Above all, you will have faith that being open to the world will bring the entire world into your heart. All you have to do is surrender.

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Posted by thesoulsurgeon

2 comments

Such a beautiful way to come on good terms with the scary V

thesoulsurgeon

Thank you, my friend. It’s a full beautiful circle xx

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