On Vulnerability

[Inspired by Brene Brown’s awesome TEDTalk “The Power of Vulnerability”, which I really recommend you watch before reading this post.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.]


[and also inspired by Amber N’s Things I Wish People Knew About Me]

Vulnerability is a scary thing. We spend a lot of time avoiding that feeling, but as Brene says, it turns out that vulnerability is a key component in connection, doing meaningful work, having fun, pretty much all that matters in the world.

This year has been a struggle for me to remain vulnerable.  Being unemployed since January in this current economic climate is a scary thing.  I decided early on to look for something that is a good fit for my skills and interests and that I can get excited about, rather than taking a job that I’d be good at but would not feed my passion and curiosity for exploring the stories behind why people love what they love.  This is great in theory, but in practice has been a constant struggle to not feel like I’m being totally selfish and silly (despite this being the right thing to do according to not just me), which leads to me putting up walls.

Snowflake
Image by JJSchad via Flickr

In any case, I can feel myself putting up new walls, and I think it’s reflected in my interactions online, and probably in person too.  So, this post is my attempt to ‘strip off’, if you will, and thrust myself outside of whatever self-imposed comfort zone I may have put myself in.

That said, here’s my Things I Wish People Knew About Me:

I had a very tumultuous adolescence. By the time I was 11, my parents (who had been together over 20 years) were in the process of fighting constantly and ultimately my mother moved out when I was 14 or 15.  I lived with my father until I was 25.  This became a situation that required many walls be put up to keep my emotions in check, and these walls still exist today, though I’m working on letting them go.

I never went to college, and I only regret it sometimes. People are often surprised by this, but after my traumatic teen years (including dropping out of Bronx Science, before landing at Urban Academy, which I’ve posted about before), I was in no rush to continue the educational process.  So I got a job instead.  Although I’m not convinced that college as it exists today is still a worthwhile investment, I do think that the social aspects of it could have been valuable for me.  This comes up in job interviews.

I have a really hard time giving myself credit for what others think I do well, therefore I’m often dismissive and have a hard time “selling my accomplishments”. Part of the challenge of growing up an only child and being ‘a smart kid’ is that the expectation that we will always do brilliant things leads to a self-censorship of anything we might not be good at.  This New York Magazine article explains it more eloquently than I can, but the gist of it is that somehow the goalposts for me being excited about the quality of my work is always just a bit further down the road.  I’m much more likely to brush off and discount compliments and praise than to own it. See also: this list looking sort of like a document of insecurities.

I’m a nerd for many things, so many paths seem interesting to me. I love baking (I hope to own a tea house with fresh-baked goodies when I retire), music is a central passion (I play five instruments, and DJed for over a decade in local goth clubs), I’ve even become a bit of a tea nerd lately (did you know there’s a social network called Steepster for tea fans?).  I’m always curious, always interested in learning more and it’s really easy for me to find something new to delve into (yeah, I’ve wasted more than a few evenings on Wikipedia)  My broad curiosity, while a great asset when tasked with exploring a topic, sometimes feels like it gets in the way of me being able to choose a focus. I sometimes envy those with a singular passion who can build a goal within it and drive toward it.

Curiosity is my favorite character trait in another person. You take your senses of humor and your big or small anatomical attributes.  Curiosity is where it’s at.  A curious mind is the baseline for all creativity, adventurousness and smarts.  I love curious people, and I hope to pursue my professional goal of feeding that curiosity for as many curious minds as possible.

So there you have it, five things I wish people knew about me.  It felt good to be vulnerable if just for a moment.

Thanks for listening.

 

Photo Credit: Thanks by kizzzbeth, on Flickr

  • I probably should have proofread that! Sorry about the errors, just a bit vulnerable right now! LOL

  • Katgordon

    Great post, Jeremy. I am grateful to know you better — and find a kindred spirit. Curiosity is my favorite quality in people, too. Along with its cousin, originality. You clearly have both in spades.

    P.S. The video was incredible. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Hello Jeremy,
      I have to say first off that I was moved by this post. I am in the most vulnerable position I have ever been in at present. For years, I was in a marriage that did not fit my core. I lied to myself, I pretended all was well in my world. Now I pay a price. I am paying the piper so to speak. My children pay as well. But, the thing that has changed is how I approach it. I finally had the courage to leave, to admit my life did not work and to realize I was the only one who could change it. I let go of my fear, that 1% of me that could not admit that I was vulnerable and worthy of kindness and help from others. I am on a jouney to whole. Thank you for being a part of it!. Great post. I have shared it with my friends!
      Good luck in your pursuits. I will come back often!
      Jenni

      • Thanks for commenting and I’m glad you’re making a change!