If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you already know that I’ll be setting monthly themes to my blogs and other writing.
I made a list of words that seem to hold some sort of meaning as I think about the year ahead. Words that resonate, that give me a little bit of a buzz of curiosity. Words that seem to be that gateway to more words.
I will pick one or two of these words to use as a monthly theme. I’ll let these words infuse into my blog posts—I’ll think of them as a lens to influence my writing.
I also said I’d use these words as freewriting prompts and post what I write.
Here is this month’s (which I’ll also post to my Facebook page): What does it mean to be vulnerable?
Here’s what I wrote in 10 minutes of free-writing by hand, very minimally edited:
Being vulnerable is not natural for me. When even a close friend or family or Josh asks me how I am, my first reaction still is to say, “Fine, and you?” and deflect from really answering. But if I could sum up the past few years of self-awareness and the internal work I’ve been doing, vulnerability would capture most of it. I’m not sure I can pinpoint a moment of deciding to “work on being vulnerable.” I think it came slowly through group therapy, through suddenly being connected to others through grief after dad died, to the outpouring of support and feedback I’d get when I wrote an especially honest blog post. So I’m learning to trust in the vulnerability. But it’s still so hard. The stoic part of me fears I won’t be understood, or worse I’ll be judged, thought less of. But the trust I’m building is because I’ve never received evidence from anyone that my being open makes me “less than” in any way. So part of what that vulnerability begins to reveal is that most of that judgment is internal. It’s my own assumption that I need to be stoic and strong. Yes, these are things I’ve learned, characteristics I’ve been taught to value, but I can unlearn them. I can swallow that knot in my stomach that still forms when I’m scared to say something, say my truth. Vulnerability is linked to truth in that way, it’s the revealing of our innermost selves, the truest part, and sometimes it’s even hidden from me. And this isn’t to say I’m going around oversharing or spilling my soul to everyone. No, I’ve had people I’ve been getting to know (or even people I’ve known for a while) who aren’t ready to receive, by which I mean aren’t able to share back in the same way. Not that I feel they’re judging me (in fact they sometimes are the most receptive) but I get a feeling that’s hard to explain that they didn’t really hear me. And so I move on and foster the relationships with people who are willing and able to meet me in this space, beyond the superficial.