“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” – Dr. Brené Brown
Since freshman year of college, I’ve had this quote penned on the folder I carry to all my classes. I read it somewhere and jotted it quickly down in my notebook, as I do with words that I love, and then transferred the quote later, with sharpie, to the inside cover of my folder. I’ve grown so used to the various words running up and down and across the edges of this now-rather-dilapidated folder that I forget what I’d once written there.
This weekend, a friend introduced me to this beautiful video on the power of vulnerability by Dr. Brené Brown. And about three quarters of the way through, she quoted the words above, and I couldn’t believe it. I ran to get my folder, flipping to the inside cover where the words were nearly faded away. How easy it is to forget that we all seek love and belonging, but that the path to deeply feeling and experiencing human connection is through vulnerability.
Connection is the most important element in daily interactions: with friends, with family, and even with the strangers that we meet throughout our lives. We all crave human connection. An inherent self-worth is tied inextricably to a sense of belonging, and this, in itself, can expose us to a wide range of hurt or happiness. I continue to struggle with the idea of being vulnerable, especially as it pertains to relationships. I tend to internalize issues and leave them until I suddenly need to release these built-up problems, resulting in an ugly torrent of pent-up emotion.
I will pull away from someone because my mind constructs an impression of “not wanting to be hurt.” Perhaps I take an ironic satisfaction in exposing myself to the possibility of hurt and then choosing to run from it. On the other hand, I will allow someone to hurt me deeply because I am unable to let that person go from my life; I crave their presence and believe the hurt to be what I deserve. Both of these situations do not define vulnerability; running away from our insecurities only creates greater problems.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
I cannot recommend this TED talk enough. Watch it when you need a study break, or when you’re eating breakfast. Watch it after you come back from that college party you reluctantly went to because you felt like you hadn’t been out in weeks. Heck, watch it during the party when you can’t make conversation with the people around you, and when you wonder about the lack of communication, the lack of connection. Make all the people at the party watch it with you. And then work on incorporating it into your daily life. Easier said than done, I know. But it may just take that first step in the right direction: the choice to believe that you are worthy of love and belonging, and the choice to actively show others that they too are worthy of love and belonging.
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