Vulnerability and the man in the arena

I’m about to get really honest with you all – so get ready.

I can be a pretty positive and confidant person. In a social setting, I normally have a smile plastered on my face, approach strangers and strike up conversations about almost anything to put others at ease. Some like to call it ‘always being on’ – I sometimes call it ‘extremely mentally exhausting.’

I’m not perfect. No one is. I’ve been going through some pretty tough times recently that have knocked me down. I’ve been avoiding social settings, not been able to workout and feeling sorry for myself… all because I’m scared to let my friends (the people who I need to be connected to the most right now, I might add) help pick me back up.

For some reason, it feels shameful. We feel shame or embarrassment around letting others see us in our most vulnerable, uncertain, times. I’m extremely guilty of this.

I, like most people, have a hard time letting others see me vulnerable. When I’m feeling shitty, I keep to myself. I make up reasons to cancel plans or say that I’m ‘tired’ after a crazy day/week… because being worn out from having too much on your plate is regarded as admirable whereas feeling crappy because I’m stressed out and unable to make decisions, is seen as weak. And determined, ambitious, driven people can’t ever be ‘weak’.. right?


I’ve been listening to researcher (and storyteller, heh) Dr. Brené Brown talk about her very extensive research into vulnerability and shame. It started with a podcast on the Good Life Project and continued with watching her two Ted Talks (the first on The Power of Vulnerability and the second on Listening to Shame) and they have been the most emotion-provoking, enlightening, experiences for me.

Check out her talk on vulnerability (warning: it’ll change your life, be prepared):

While listening, watching, reflecting and well, crying…. I realized something quite profound. When Dr. Brown was describing mustering up courage to be the only way to overcome vulnerability… I realized that is exactly what Faith and I have been doing by ‘getting uncomfortable!’ It’s the same concept – but I was never able to truly describe the reason, or the human emotions behind why getting uncomfortable was ground breaking.

I try to get uncomfortable as much as possible, but i’m only human too. In times of uncertainty, I hold myself back out of fear. Fear of judgement, ridicule…. failure. It’s hard to walk blindly into the unknown without certainty.

Another quote that Dr. Brown mentioned in her talk was this one from Theodore Roosevelt:


Side note:
Ultimate life goal: to be quotable one day.

Do I lack courage? No, I’ve faced many scary and uncertain obstacles in my life. In those moments I was vulnerable as hell, but I chose to be brave and through that came courage to overcome the fear of vulnerability.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert. I never claim to be and i’m definitely not superhuman. I’ll face many vulnerable obstacles in my life, but with this perspective, education and knowledge – I’ll do my best to over come the fear and uncertainty to face vulnerability head on.

I’m choosing to be the man in the arena. Dust, sweat, blood and all.

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