Why is it so hard to be vulnerable? We spend our entire lives trying to build authentic relationships, yet the idea of vulnerability somehow still gives most of us the heebie-jeebies. What we want are people who understand us, who show us grace, who love us even when we’re unlovable; what we forget is that in order to establish that kind of relationship with anybody, you have to first be willing to put your true self out there.
It’s baffling to me, partially because I spend my time coaching people around this very concept while I’ve spent my entire life knowing that I’m performing more or less all the time. I’m playing the role of daughter and sister. I’m on the stage that is the world as wife and friend, consultant and coach. It’s when the auditorium empties and the light dims that I’m left with me – except if I'm stripped of all those roles, then who am I?
I shared with a friend the other day that I often feel out of place, and then I took it back right away because it isn’t true. I don’t feel out of place. I rarely feel like I’m where I’m not supposed to be. What I feel is that I’m here when I’m not supposed to be. I feel like I’m out of time. Not out of time in the sense that life is short and there’s much to do, but out of time as in I was brought into the world when I shouldn’t have been. He then asked me what era or decade I should have been born into, and I had no answer for him. I had no answer because there is no answer.
The reality is this: I don’t feel the way I do because it’s true; I feel the way I do because I’ve convinced myself that it’s true – that this isn’t the time for me. What it will take for me to fully live in this time, I’m not quite sure of yet. I don’t even think I actually understand what that means. Part of the human journey is discovering all these feelings you never knew you had and most likely don’t yet understand. All I know is that the first step to finding the pieces of me are being brave enough to admit this out loud to all of you.
I think of the leaders I work with and the pressure they feel to perform each and every day, and I wonder if many of them feel lost. I wonder if their identities are built around being husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, supervisors and project leads, Chief Operating Officers and Senior Vice Presidents; I wonder if they even know when they’re performing. And then I wonder what magic we’d all be capable of if we could embrace ourselves as who we are rather than who we think we should be.