Today is a popular “V” day in the U.S. The modern-day Valentine’s phenomenon is one of those unique things we humans (and some really good marketers) have created to celebrate those we love. I’m grateful for my wife every day but took some extra time this morning to tell her so.
One of the things I’ve learned a little bit about from my wife in the past couple of years is vulnerability. Our culture, for the most part, indoctrinates us to hide things about ourselves that are “messy.” That means most people in the U.S. find it hard to be open and vulnerable with others, even our most intimate friends and partners.
My wife is a big fan of Dr. Brené Brown, a popular researcher and author who focuses a lot of her attention on vulnerability. Dr. Brown challenges us to reject our culture’s systematic indoctrination to “keep things to ourselves” and to embrace vulnerability instead. One of her more famous quotes is “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” She also frequently describes vulnerability as being “the greatest measure of courage.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and here’s why.
Since releasing my book, “FAT: A Life Unfiltered” in late 2019, the most common feedback I’ve heard is about something related to vulnerability.
Many readers seem astounded that I talk so openly in the book about my struggles with being fat. It’s true, in an effort to paint the real picture of what it’s like to live with obesity, I push back against many taboos and socially accepted norms. Most people don’t find it comfortable to read about medical and bathroom mishaps. And although I tell these stories with a humorous vibe, the pain of what I endured is often easily recognizable.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”Dr. Brené Brown
I didn’t write my book for shock value. And I didn’t write it thinking intentionally about vulnerability. I wrote it because I wanted those who have struggled all their lives as I have to know they aren’t alone. And I wrote it because I wanted those who have NEVER struggled to experience and feel the world of the extremely obese.
So back to vulnerability and Dr. Brown’s quote. I’m not sure how my book fits her belief that vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation and creativity. I suppose an argument could be made that my willingness to be vulnerable about embarrassing things in my life sparked the creative energy that resulted in 270 pages of humor, tears, and inspiration. I think the portion of her quote that resonates most strongly with me, though, is the “change” part.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of change. I don’t see how change is even possible in most situations without it. And I’m not talking only about weight issues or weight loss. I wonder how much kinder and gentler our world, nation, communities, and families would be if instead of being indoctrinated to “keep things to ourselves,” we instead embraced vulnerability.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.