(Embracing My Vulnerability)
by Vivian Baez (Life After 40 Mardeva.com)
- the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
I’m a forty-five-year-old woman, midway into my 40 something journey. My body has changed. My skin no longer has a youthful glow, and I am starting to see some wrinkles. I have lost some hair on my head and gained some hair on my chin. It has been quite the trip. But there’s clarity that comes with getting older. I’ve learned to accept discomfort and embrace my vulnerability.
Recently I shared things my daughter said about my chin hairs on my Instagram stories. “Mom, your chin hair poked my eye”. They were funny comments. I certainly got a chuckle out of them. I knew someone out there could probably relate.
Before sharing my post, I was keenly aware of my discomfort. Some of my old insecurities came up. I felt uneasy. I thought, “if I post this to all of my IG, will people make fun of me?” I thought perhaps I might be criticized, or they’ll think I’m weird.
Don’t get anchored in fear.
In the past, this type of scenario would send me down this thought spiral. “People will know just how much weight I’ve gained.” “They’ll see me, and they won’t like me. They’ll see the real me and won’t like me.” But in my mature years, I’ve learned to quiet this voice.
The desire to stay emotionally safe kept me anchored for many years. The fear of being exposed kept me from taking risks. Safety kept me stuck. And so, I remained in a toxic work environment simply because I had tenure. I felt stunted in my growth, both personally and professionally. It kept me miserable yet frozen in my “safety zone.”
Three years ago, I ended up in the emergency room. I thought I was going to die. After two rounds of iv fluids and some antibiotics, my ER doctor sat on my bed and asked, “How are you really doing?” Already feeling vulnerable from being in the hospital I shared that I was unhappy at my job and my life’s general direction. My doctor listened and helped me unload the burden I was carrying. Sharing my vulnerability with this person helped me gain perspective. There is nothing like the fear of death to propel you into action. It was then that I decided to stop playing it safe and lean into my vulnerability.
A little over a month after that incident, I took a leap of faith and embarked on a new professional journey. It was a scary move but somehow, sharing my vulnerability at the emergency room with a complete stranger allowed me to gain insight into the direction this “safe life” had been taking me. I took action.
Let the world see you.
Since this moment years ago, I’ve taken other risks, i.e., this article. I’m no longer using fear as a shield. I am learning to accept changes, chin hairs, and all. I’m learning to allow the world to see me, but best of all, I am embracing my vulnerability.