A few thoughts on what connects us to others.
When I started this blog, I thought people would be most interested in sports stories. It has been eye opening that the stories that do the best–by far–are those where I expose times in my life when things didn't go well, or where I fell short. This post really resonated with people, and not even my family knew this whole story. Being vulnerable is what truly connects us to others.
Be Vulnerable (Appropriately)
There have been times in my life when I craved connection, and over-shared. I let the wrong people in my personal space and regretted it. I learned from those times, and I became more careful. Because I no longer crave connection, because I have it. I find it easier to reveal things that make me vulnerable, when appropriate (or in a public blog).
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to get close to people who cannot be vulnerable. They keep their shiny shells tightly closed. What they don't realize is that their real beauty is inside the shell. They never get to experience the acceptance and deep love that only comes from when you allow your loved ones and close friends see the imperfect parts of you. Feeling deeply seen, and still loved and accepted, is real connection.
In the movie Good Will Hunting, there is a scene where the therapist, played by Robin Williams tells Will about his wife, who tooted in her sleep. They both were laughing so hard as he recounted the night when she tooted so loud she woke up, and so did the dog. She turned to him and asked: Was that you?? He said yes, because, as he told Will, he didn't have the heart to tell her it was actually her. Then he explained that stuff like that is what made her his wife.
"That's the good stuff of life," he said.
We are are wired for connection. According to Brene Brown's research, if you want to live whole-heartedly, it takes:
Courage to be imperfect
Compassion for self and then to others (you must have compassion for yourself before it's possible to give it to others)
Connection as a result of authenticity
Feeling deeply seen, and still loved and accepted, is real connection.
According to her Ted Talk, people who live whole-heartedly fully embrace that what makes them beautiful is what makes them vulnerable. They understand that their flaws don't keep them from being worthy of love and connection.
There are so many things that make us feel vulnerable, and even if our hearts get broken, there is really no way around it. It's simple, but never easy.
I remember when my grandfather's dog died, he said he would never get another dog. He was crushed and didn't want to go through that pain ever again. I was only a kid and this made a huge impression on me. Even at my young age, I thought: How sad. He loved his dog, and his dog brought him so much joy and companionship. Isn't that connection worth it? I felt like he was a coward, although I certainly didn't say so. I was young and he was scary. I still think I was right. It's fine not to get another pet, but I still say Alfred Lord Tennyson said it best. "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
That's the good stuff of life.
So go forth and expose your beautiful flaws to your kids, your spouse, your close friends and family. It will give them permission to do the same. Be brave. You are worthy. You are worthy. It's just worth saying twice.