4494566573_223ebfe62f_o“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow—that’s vulnerability.” – Brene Brown 

In the past few months my insistence on sinking into vulnerability feels like I am walking around with a gaping wound in the middle of my heart. Cut open, I am porous, emotions leaking out of holes even I didn’t know existed. In this state, I tend to notice every slight, perceived misstep and stew over situations beyond my reach. My willingness to embrace vulnerability comes with a cost, the perils of it sometimes unknown until I step into the quicksand.

In the middle of certain circumstances, I’ve questioned the purpose of vulnerability. Should it feel like a foreign substance entering my body? What is the cost of revealing self? How much to divulge and to keep under wraps? Who will believe  my vulnerability? And will it be reciprocated? Through some hard lessons, I’ve learned vulnerability is a practice that must be my own. Over and over again, loved ones, wag their fingers with the same advice, “You can’t be vulnerable with everyone.” Yet, I failed to heed this warning, because I am unable to live a life without trying to at least attempt to express my truth, good or bad.

In this space, I acknowledge how I adore the magic in the ordinary. There is an undeniable beauty in the blazing sunset, the innocent questions from my daughter and the comfort of holding hands with my husband while we watch a movie. I relish the tiniest moments, trips to the library, grocery shopping and the privilege of cleaning my house. My Instagram feed is filled with countless snapshots of the sky, petals of flowers, as well as the contrast between shadow and light. Embracing vulnerability means softening toward beauty, but also feeling sadness in a way which feels uncomfortable and uncertain.

Living this way also harbors a price. It breeds a sensitivity to the world in a way I fail to always understand. I am the quickest to reveal my emotions, with a swift release, not knowing how it might land elsewhere. I express my feelings in this space, trying to deconstruct what “authenticity” means in a practical life. For me, it means divulging details in my writing, but also trying to build a bridge between intention and action. The worst fate – living as a fraud. I try to honor the bad parts of my life too, sharing my grief and restlessness reach a pitch I am unequipped to handle. In a given day, vulnerability means crying unexpectedly in the middle of the day or laughing in a way which is raw and unencumbered.

It means being all in, no matter what the consequences. Some days this perspective offers endless joy, other days, a palpable sadness. Vulnerability rips open all wounds, but also offers a glimmer on how to become whole again.

Image: Put Your Heart Out There by Cassandra Rae via Flickr.