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The importance of being vulnerable

Last week I watched ‘The Call to Courage’ by Brene Brown on Netflix. A Lawyer that I know recommended that I look her up after I had expressed my hesitation about what I should share on my platform. I like to tell myself that I don’t care what other people think, but I am also someone who likes balance and for everyone to get along (if you believe in star signs, I’m a Libra so that explains a lot). It is normal to want people to like us, we are all wired that way. But I think it is super important to remember that we need to be careful of whose opinions we take to heart. Brene talks about being in the arena and getting your butt kicked regularly because you are being brave. She said that there are millions of cheap seats in the world who are filled with people who will never once step foot in that arena, and never once put themselves out there, but who make it their full-time job to hurl criticism and hateful things towards you. And we, the people in the arena who are being brave and putting ourselves out there, need to get out of the habit of catching that criticism and pulling it close to our hearts. We need to instead, let it fall to the ground, step over it and keep going. 

Because of our desire to be liked we can often be afraid to show our vulnerability for fear of how people might react. When I posted my first blog detailing some of my history of Depression, I was hesitant and I did go back and forth about whether or not I should post it. I decided in the end that I wanted to share it because I wanted anyone who read my blog to understand that you don’t need to be ashamed or hide away parts of yourself or your life because you’re worried about what others will think. We live in a world where we have insights to others’ lives like never before. We have a constant ‘highlight reel’ on social media and it can be easy to believe that you are the only one who isn’t living in a world full of sunshine and rainbows when you are constantly confronted by it. I think it is important to share the moments that challenge us, where we are vulnerable and exposed so that we can help ‘reality check’ the highlight reels. It’s also important if you want to live your life courageously. Being vulnerable isn’t easy. It takes great strength to stand up and be seen and to live each day putting yourself out into the world. Whether it is getting yourself out of bed and go to an exam that you are dreading, or whether it is public speaking or meeting new people, living your life courageously means showing up even when you are afraid, nervous, anxious, stressed and uncomfortable. 

Understanding that personal growth and success can never come from staying in your comfort zone is something I wish I understood a lot sooner. It can be easy to get stuck in your ways and to stick to a routine. While I was completing my degree it was very much like that for me. Working full-time, running a house, studying…I ran a well-oiled machine to stay on top of everything. I just keep chugging along to reach my end goal of getting my degree. While I am proud that I was able to balance my life and get my degree, I do wish that I had of done some things that were out of my comfort zone sooner. I can tell you that I have learnt so much more from meeting lawyers and other students, going to events and volunteering than I did from going through the motions with study and work. So, if you’re reading this – I couldn’t recommend getting involved in something – whether it be volunteering (and it doesn’t have to be law-related, but awesome if it is), networking events, reaching out to someone on LinkedIn and creating a mentor relationship, joining a team sport or starting a new hobby. Experiences like this will give you an opportunity to be vulnerable and courageous, learn and grow. Life is so much more than your grades at university or getting your degree, and I understand it can be easy to get lost in that while you are getting your degree – I think I did – but if you have something else, even if it is just someone who you can reach out to for advice or an external event like a game of tennis you can go to, those moments can help when things are stressful at university. 

I think the last thing I want to share is about failure. Failure means many things to different people. If you’re a perfectionist like me, failure can mean not getting your desired result on an assignment. Some people believe there is no such thing as failure and just opportunities for learning. Whatever your view, I think it is important to understand that no matter how much you prepare, how hard you work, how much effort and love you put into something – there are no guarantees that it will go exactly according to plan. Life is funny like that, sometimes you really want something and it doesn’t work out and later it becomes clear why it didn’t work out. So I think it is important to remember that if something doesn’t go to plan, or you ‘fail’ – it doesn’t mean you should give up, that your effort was wasted or that you didn’t do enough. Being courageous means understanding that you will fail. But you can also pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. Understand that if you don’t live your life courageously and you don’t put yourself out there, with the risk of failure or rejection, that you won’t be open to amazing things either. If you try, you might not succeed. But if you don’t try then you won’t succeed. So – I would encourage you to try something new, meet someone new, do something that you’re afraid you’ll mess up, be brave and be vulnerable and with courage you’ll find confidence, you’ll learn heaps and you’ll achieve some pretty cool things!