If you’ve never heard of or seen the video above, do yourself a favor and watch now, please, because it’s one of those videos that’s so simple but so poignant all at the same time.
What’s striking about the video and its message is that while it is likely to be a fictionalized performance to make a point, it’s something that could very well happen in real life. And actually, let’s just be real — it happens all the time. It happens over texts or messaging (like in this instance), but it happens during in-person conversations as well, and it also happens in our heads (don’t act like you don’t have conversations in your head sometimes — not like a crazy person, just… oh whatever you know what I mean). It’s this constant need to either censor our real selves or not be too open to others.
But why is that? What is it that causes us all to instinctively back away from being open and vulnerable when given the chance?
I’m assuming it’s the common misconception that vulnerability equates to being weak. Except that what’s funny about that equation, is that for many, we see vulnerability as strength in others. Just not when it concerns us. It may also have to do with fears of rejection or of looking “too thirsty.” Or wanting to appear nonchalant about something or someone. Fear of the unknown and things we can’t control.
Brene’ Brown of the famed vulnerability and shame Ted talks says it this way:
Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable. Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there’s no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness… Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to life.
In other words, if you don’t allow yourself to be open to being vulnerable, you’ll end up like these two talking around each other, neither one being honest, neither one coming out of the conversation with a good feeling about it.
And since I brought it back up, let’s go back to the video for a second. Can we all admit we’ve been there at least once? I watched the thing and had more than my fair share of flashbacks to times when I wanted to say something to a guy, but didn’t. Or wanted to speak up at work and didn’t. Wanted to try a new activity and didn’t. And then inevitably, I’d end up wondering what if. What if I had gone against that voice in my head telling me it didn’t take all that? What if I had just said what was on my heart to say? What could have been different? I mean, these fake people could have been a love story, y’all, but they’re probably not the only ones! But because two people refused to say what they really wanted to say and express the excitement they really felt, they weren’t.
What’s more tragic than missing out on a beautiful love story because you were afraid to show just how much you liked that person? Or missing out on your calling in life because you didn’t know how your innovation/creation/project would be received? I would argue not too much. And yet, we still do it. We still censor ourselves. We still hesitate when it comes to taking risks with matters of the heart and matters that call us to act on faith and not by sight, whether that’s in our careers, in our love lives, in our relationships with family/friends, etc…
But I think we should all collectively ask ourselves – where has that gotten us thus far? And then commit that we won’t allow ourselves to become a “could have been…” story any longer.