When we think about the word vulnerability, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The most popular answer is weakness. And yet if we look at what it means to be vulnerable, the word courage best describes people who are able to allow themselves to be vulnerable. This can be a difficult concept for girls in their tween/teen years, however it can be very transformative when mastered at a young age.
In her second Ted Talk, Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW discusses how being vulnerable in her first Ted Talk dramatically impacted her life. Immediately after she spoke at her first Ted Talk, Brown wanted to run and hide because she was very authentic and honest. In fact, she hoped it would be seen by only the 500 people in the audience. It was seen by over 19 million people! It took a lot of courage to recover from what she perceived to be a huge failure and what she discovered was that being totally vulnerable is “our most accurate measure of courage.”
Brown talks about entering the arena of life with a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; …who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Daring Greatly – this concept of going outside of one’s comfort zone and being present, leaving nothing for interpretation, that is perhaps one of the most courageous things to do. In her latest book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,” Brown describes this new approach to vulnerability. What she found in her twelve years of research is that vulnerability is really strength.
Helping girls enter the arena
Sometimes middle school itself can feel like an arena. Girls today face more than just words that are said to them; the added social media impact can feel like lions coming at them every day. It may feel like when they raise their hand to share an opinion and it will lead to unkind remarks. It is important that girls know that having their voice heard is the first step to building inner strength that will help them for the rest of their lives.
What can you do?
Share a story with your daughter of how a situation that felt like you were entering into the arena. How did you handle that challenge and what were the lessons learned from being vulnerable?
What does vulnerability mean to you? Share your answer below.