The Power of Vulnerability

Dr.Sanja Rickette Stinson
May 14, 2024
3 min read
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Embracing Authenticity in a Hyperconnected World  

In a world where Instagram feeds are meticulously curated, where Facebook timelines showcase only the highlights of life, where Twitter encourages brevity and snappy comebacks, the concept of vulnerability can seem almost radical. Yet, beneath the façade of perfection and carefully constructed images of lies a universal truth; our vulnerabilities are what make us truly HUMAN!

As a woman who has navigated and continues to navigate the complexities of starting and running a nonprofit during a pandemic, built and entrepreneurial platform, and embraced the journey of authorprenesurship, I’ve come to vulnerability appreciate the transformative power of vulnerability in my personal and professional life. It’s been through moments of openness and authenticity that I’ve forged meaningful connects, discovered new opportunities and grown as a leader and individual.

In recent years, there been a growing recognition of the transformative power of vulnerability. Far from being a sign of weakness, embracing vulnerability has becomes synonymous with authenticity and courage. It’s showing up as our true selves, flaws and all, and daring to be seen for who we really are.

For women, this could entail taking a makeup-free day or sharing candid stories about the challenges they face. But what about men? In a society that often equates masculinity with stoicism and emotional repression, embracing vulnerability can be particularly challenging. Yet, the truth is that men, too, benefit from embracing their vulnerabilities and showing up authentically.

For men, vulnerability might mean being open about their fears and insecurities, seeking support when they need it, and challenging traditional notions of masculinity that discourage emotional expression. It's about acknowledging that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but rather a source of strength and resilience.

Brene Brené Brown , a renowned researcher and author, has spent years studying vulnerability, shame and resilience. In her groundbreaking TED Talk and subsequent books, she argues that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but rather the birthplace of connection and belonging. When we have the courage to show our true selves, warts and all, we create the opportunity for genuine connections with others. We invite empathy, understanding and compassion in our lives, forging bounds that transcend the superficial.

What I know is that embracing vulnerability is easier said than done, especially for women like me. From a young girl to reaching womanhood, I've often found myself hiding aspects of who I truly am—my flaws, insecurities, and struggles. Society's expectations have been relentless, dictating that women should uphold a facade of perfection at all costs. Whether it's concealing physical imperfections, suppressing emotions, or downplaying our achievements, the pressure to conform to unrealistic standards has been ever-present. Growing up, I internalized these messages, believing that vulnerability was synonymous with weakness, and that showing my true self would leave me exposed and vulnerable to criticism. So, I learned to wear a mask, to present a polished exterior while concealing the messy, imperfect reality beneath the surface.

But as I've journeyed through life, I've come to realize the toll that this constant hiding takes on my well-being and sense of self. It's exhausting to maintain a facade, to constantly suppress parts of who I am in order to fit into society's narrow mold of acceptability. And yet, paradoxically, it's in those moments of vulnerability—the times when I've allowed myself to be seen, flaws and all—that I've experienced the deepest connections, the greatest growth, and the most profound sense of freedom. It's through embracing my vulnerabilities that I've discovered strength in my authenticity, resilience in my imperfections, and beauty in my humanity.

So how do we cultivate vulnerability in a world that often rewards perfectionism and stoicism? It starts with:

• Self-Awareness: Being by acknowledging your own vulnerability and insecurities. Take time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and identify areas where you may be holding back or putting up walls. This self-awareness lays the foundation for embracing vulnerability and allows you to recognize when you’re feeling guarded or closed off.

• Courageous Action: Take small, intentional steps toward vulnerability. This could involve opening up to a trusted friend or love one about something you’ve been struggling with, sharing a person story or experience on social media, as a courageous act that requires stepping outside of your comfort zone, but the rewards can be profound.

• Self-Care: Incorporate self-care practices into your routing while serving others. Prioritize activities that nourish you mind, body and soul, whether it’s practicing mindfulness, spending quiet time by yourself, taking a break to rest and recharge. By prioritizing self-care, you ensure that you have the energy and resilience to show up authentically and serve others from a place of abundance rather than depletion.  

Ultimately, embracing vulnerability is a deeply personal journey, one that looks different for each of us. But at the core, it’s about having the courage to be seen and to show as our true selves, imperfection and all.  After all, Woody Allen says: “showing up is ninety percent of success.

Vulnerability is about letting go of the need for approval or validation, and embracing the messy, beautiful complexity of being HUMAN. In a hyperconnected world that often prizes perfection over authenticity, vulnerability is a radical act of self-love and defiance. And it’s a reminder that our true worth lies not in our ability to mask our flaws, but in our willingness to embrace them.

Dr. Sanja Rickette Stinson, M.Ed., Mdiv

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