Word of the Year: Vulnerable

The past few years, I have taken on the habit of adopting a word for the year.  I have never really understood New Year’s resolutions and waiting until a new year comes around to start changing.  I’m just not wired that way.  But a word.  A word that describes my goals and my heart.  That makes a great deal of sense to me.  It is something to embrace; something to aim for.  But it not something that I will fail at.  It is my motivation, but not my pressure.

I’ve chosen some great words in the past: fun, joy and last year’s, deliberate…my best word so far.  I’m getting better at choosing the very particular word for myself that describes my heart.

And so, this year?  My word?  My word is VULNERABLE.

Oh that’s a tough one.

I first really heard about the word vulnerable and vulnerability from my therapist (yes, I have a therapist…vulnerability acknowledgement #1).  She suggested an amazing speaker and therapist Brene Brown.  If you have not heard her Ted Talk on Vulnerability, do yourself a favor.  Drop everything right now and go watch it on youtube.  It has literally changed my life.

All kinds of people are using her words as you can see.  She is just one quotable phrase after another.  One pearl of wisdom after another.  I need to go listen to her again…and read her books again.  She was the person who introduced the concept of vulnerability as a strength.  And not just a strength but something necessary to FEELING.  
I am using the word vulnerable in two ways this year.  One is for the way that I think of when I think about Brene Brown’s version.  The idea that vulnerability is the root to strength.  That without letting ourselves be vulnerable, we will never experience the true high of happiness.  You can’t have success if you never risked anything to have it.  
I’ve been using this word this way for a couple of years now.  It has changed the way that I think about risk and love.  I’m willing to share more of myself because I understand that without sharing my goals and risks, I will never truly experience the joy of realizing accomplishing those things.
Being vulnerable allows me to embrace my imperfections.  Something that I truly struggle with as a type A personality.  I fight the need to be perfect.  I want to be gentle to myself.  And that means embracing imperfections.  But when you allow imperfections,  you open yourself up to vulnerability.  
For instance, I recently chose when filming my Craftsy class to not freak myself out over every tiny detail.  And of course, someone called me out on it.  Not in a mean way, but in a way that just asked why I didn’t suggest the “perfect” way to do something.  As the teacher, she assumed I would do things perfectly.  But I had chosen to let it go.  But that means that I need to answer humbly, knowing that her way is indeed more “perfect” but knowing that I had made the choice to not be perfect….terrifyingly hard for a perfectionist.  People notice. 
So I make choices.  These are indeed choices and not something I am forced to.  But it changes the way that I might present myself.  No longer “perfect” and “pulled together”.  I never have been, but there is always that temptation to present the world with that view.  
I have shared my dreams and goals, knowing that they may easily never come true….or if they do that I won’t actually want them.  All of these things are extremely vulnerable.
But I said this was twofold.  And by that I mean that I also understand vulnerable not just in a way I choose to present myself.  But also an acceptance of who I am.  I am a person who is literally vulnerable….or rather my health is.  I have new diagnoses that make me more and more aware of the limitations on my body and my health.  I will not be able to do what I do forever.  I will experience pain and suffering and have indeed already done so.  I will have days that are tougher than others and days that are better.  To put it succinctly, I am not quite sure what my body will do and where I will have strength.   
So this last quote below is especially true for me this year.  Be gentle with yourself.  I really am doing the best I can.  That will look different at different times.  You all may never hear me talk about it again, but I am on a personal health journey that requires to me acknowledge my own personal vulnerability.  
So in body and in mind, I am vulnerable.  I embrace it.  I will discover more about it.  I will be open and sometimes I will be shut off.  All because of that vulnerability.  But I know that I am striving for goodness and for health and happiness.  Vulnerability is part of the package.  Much like how without sadness, we cannot have joy…without vulnerability, we cannot have strength.

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19 thoughts on “Word of the Year: Vulnerable

  1. I am so glad you have found inspiration from Brown. I have to say she scares me – she sure gives out lots of advice and presents her musings as facts. Remember – this is your personal journey and instead of being told "truths" a good therapist helps you to make your own discoveries, your own thoughts and conclusions that are influenced by your personal past. Be careful…. Not to mention I couldnt find any scientific published studies that support all the advice she gives out. A therapist she is not.

    1. Never fear, my therapist is amazing. And while I'm sorry that you are scared by Brene, her words carry a great deal of meaning to me. I don't feel that she is giving out advice. But we all see things differently. So I hope that you find someone who inspires you!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Angela. I hope the new year treats your creativity and body well!
    I can't remember if it was Brene Brown who said it or someone else, but there's also the notion that we don't really connect with other people unless we are vulnerable. My word for the year is "connect" so I've been spending a lot of time the past few days also thinking about vulnerability. Your post was perfectly timed for me, and I really appreciated that you shared your thinking about vulnerability and what it means.

  3. Angela,
    So much of what you've written is what I would like to say to my readers about myself. I feel vulnerable at this point in time, something new to me, and I need to pass on my feelings to my readers. You said it all so well!! I hope I can be as succint and honest.
    Blessing for the new year.

  4. We are all vulnerable but it is hard to acknowledge that, and I hope that in doing so you will enhance both your own growth and the inspiration you provide to others. All the best for the new year, thank you for continuing to inspire me.

  5. I enjoyed reading this, Angela. You modeled vulnerability beautifully for us here. Just this week I told my therapist that I don't understand why people keep praising me for being "vulnerable". Your post helps me see that there is a lot going on in that word. I guess, for me, vulnerability is such an obvious given. Who would I be kidding to pretend I am strong/things are perfect. No one! But, really, it's true for all of us in ways more or less dramatic. Well said. Would enjoy a cup of tea with you.

  6. You touched my heart. I have seen the Ted talks with Brene Brown and have read most of her books. What she says is amazing and so true and it's all based on research. I so admire your honesty and strength. I want to copy your word but I think I need to think about me and my life and then decide on a word. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Such thought provoking feelings on a word that I haven't considered deeply. So much of what you said resonated with my own personal struggles. Thoughts and prayers for both of us this coming year.

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Angela. I just read the transcript for Brene Brown's TED Talk and was very inspired, so much so that I sent the link to my kids. In so many ways, you have already been embracing your vulnerability. It's one of the things I find difficult about blogging: that putting yourself out there. When you add teaching and authoring… it can sometimes feel overwhelming. I wish you an incredible journey this year!

  9. Angela I'm in agreement with you about resolutions – I can never figure out why people talk about things instead of just doing whatever it is they are all in about. I've given a great deal of thought to a word also and my word is grit. As a teacher I see every day how many kids are unable or unwilling to really dig in and give it all they've got – adults, too. As soon as things get hard people give up. Grit causes you to push on through the tough times, or dare to try things without knowing for sure how it will turn out. I wish you a good dose of grit to go along with your vulnerability. As you come to mind I will keep your health concerns in my prayers.

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