I’m currently studying professor and researcher Brené Brown’s books about vulnerability and it’s the perfect inspiration for me right now – you know when you hear the right things at the right time, said in the right way so you absorb it all and something suddenly shifts inside you? That’s how it feels. For someone who is all about authenticity and the rawness of the real and true nature of the inside, vulnerability is both one of my biggest assets and at the same time something that turns me into an easy prey for emotional vampires or abusive people. Vulnerability is a beautiful resource that I use in my art and writing, but it’s also my Achilles heel. People love to witness authentic art, acting, writing – when it comes from an honest place, a place we all can relate to, far away from pretentiousness and perfection. A place where human nature is exposed and celebrated – where nothing follows an expectation or an ideal. The most popular TED talks are the ones where the speakers aren’t following a particular structure in their talks, but where they are being real and speak from their hearts.
Brené Brown talks about being brave enough to just show up at the “arena”. To put yourself out there – letting yourself be seen for who you are and to speak from that place of imperfection and truth. One of the biggest myths about vulnerability is that it is a weakness. To be out there, feeling vulnerable and “naked” when you are being real and honest is to be brave and courageous. There is nothing weak with being brave enough to expose yourself to potential criticism or getting your ass kicked just because you had the audacity to show up at the arena in the first place. When you are brave enough to put yourself out there, it will always be provocative to some people. You WILL get your ass kicked. You will feel naked and exposed, but at least you have the guts to do it. The critics are comfortable in their cheap seats while you are in the uncomfortable position in the spotlight. Their judgments and opinions shouldn’t matter because they are not being brave and vulnerable like you.
I have made a lot of mistakes when it comes to my vulnerability. I’ve wasted it on the wrong people who didn’t see the value of it and who didn’t appreciate it but rather neglected it. I’ve made myself vulnerable in the wrong situations where the people didn’t deserve to be a witness to it. I’ve been emotionally naked in places where it was inappropriate. I’ve not understood the true nature of vulnerability and how it’s connected to other difficult emotions like shame and guilt. I’ve exposed my vulnerability to emotional vampires who just feeds of it like it’s fresh blood while they’re leaving me feeling drained and weak.
I can see that my “creativity blockage” happened in a time where I felt vulnerable I every area of my life and it triggered so much shame in me that it was impossible for me to distinguish the strength of being vulnerable and the excruciating pain of being vulnerable in the wrong place. So I just started to avoid the vulnerabilities that I actually could avoid and unfortunately it was my art and creativity that suffered from this confusion and survival strategy.
But now I am here, in a completely new place. After so many years of loss and being lost, I feel found and at peace. I still have some obstacles to overcome until I have reclaimed all the things I once lost, but at least I am working hard to get there and I am constantly moving forward.
I am slowly getting naked in front of myself. I was so used to being exposed and vulnerable to the world that I forgot about myself as the main audience. To let myself be seen by myself means to let go of the constant need to feel seen by others – and ironically it makes it easier for other people to see me as well. There’s a clarity to vulnerability. This has changed my art a lot. It’s more personal now with a deeper sense of a private mythology. I think it will change the expression of my future paintings too. Now I dare to be even more raw and visually clear in my expressions. Simplicity in the complexities of human emotions. That’s it. That’s what I’m all about.
This spiritual striptease is a little scary but so wonderful at the same time. Brené Brown will guide me on this journey to understanding the nature of vulnerability and how I am to use it in the correct way, where it is only a resource and not an invitation to other people’s abuse or the rabbit hole to self-abandonment.