Last Saturday, on April 29, I was a part of a the Baltimore show of “Listen to Your Mother.” Being a part of the cast, during the last run of the show locally, really kind of changed me more than I thought it would. It challenged parts of me in ways I didn’t quite expect. All of the women involved revealed parts of themselves and shared their truth. Some brought me to tears, some brought laughs. It was an awesome experience, on so many levels. In particular, the one thing it made me deal with is that v-word. Vulnerability.
You see, my nervousness leading up to the show wasn’t so much speaking in front of an audience. My nervousness was about whether I’d be able to stand in front of an audience full of strangers, and my Mom, and talk about a deep yearning of mine. If my voice would shake or if I’d find my voice and be strong. If I’d look down at my pages, as I did in every read-through we did, or if I’d finally be able to look up and out at the audience. I worried if I, a person whose passion lies in telling my truth and providing an avenue for others to do so as well, would be able to that.
I’m a person whose job involves speaking in front of people everyday- and teaching others how to speak in front of people. You’d never know that from our practices, where I could talk to people but never look at them as I read my piece. It wasn’t the shyness either. It was the discomfort of being honest and vulnerable.
In this season of my life I’m trying to find comfort in the uncomfortable space of being open and vulnerable. One of the reasons I’ve projected being a “hard rock” as Lauryn used to call it, is because of what we know happens to anyone perceived as soft. People use their feelings against them. People poke at their soft spots and push those buttons. It’s not a safe world to be vulnerable in. That’s why the idea of “safe spaces” became a thing. As much as I generally don’t care what people think about me, I know being open like this creates a space for people to go out of their way to give their opinion. Or not so discreetly let me know.
But even with that in mind, I did it. And like I hoped, my voice was strong and I looked up as I said what I needed to say. I spoke my truth with confidence because that what it was – MY truth. Having people come up to me afterward and tell me how what I said resonated with them and that I was writing their life was really the best thing ever. Those kind of responses are the main reason I write. As such, I plan on posting my piece as the first in my upcoming project, Keep It Candid, because I rarely see people talk about the subject from my perspective. And so I know my voice is needed because I’m not alone.
All of us have stories and if nothing else, the gift they can be to others is one of the reasons for that. It can be scary to be vulnerable – I know. But I can’t proceed with acting out my purpose and facilitating other women telling their stories if I can’t be comfortable with first telling mine. Ultimately if I can’t find comfort in my own vulnerability, how can I help others to embrace theirs? That’s part of my job.There is strength and so much value in vulnerability. In the end, my story, just like everyone else’s, is meant for someone else to hear so they know they’re not alone. And even beyond that, sharing my truth is setting me free.