capable of being physically or emotionally wounded;
open to attack or damage : assailable <vulnerable to criticism>
I am a self-defined extrovert. I love engaging with people. I love being in front of a crowd. I love being the leader. I love to challenge and be challenged. I love to argue. I love when people critique my work so I can improve and I love planning events. So it came as a shock to me when I have spent the past 3-4 weeks sitting with my trial account here at SA Collective wondering what would be good enough to write about. When I started at least 5 drafts, including topics that I am passionate about (and told the SA Collective I wanted to write about) and put them on hold. When I stared blankly at the time as it passed wondering when my trial blogging period would be over. When I reflected repeatedly over whether blogging was even for me and whether I should just not post because what I had to say might not be meaningful. Sound familiar?
It took a brief 5 minute conversation with one of my supervisors to realize how vulnerable this new venture was making me, in fact she laughed a bit because she knows how confident I tend to be in front of others. That is what got me thinking again. We are a field (and society) that rewards extroverts. We have expectations in our field that create biases towards extroverts. Take a quick look at your RA hiring process, who are your favoring there? I looked at ours and while we intentionally seek to hire both, our activities clearly cater to one over the other. In Residential Life, we expect people to interact, present, lead and engage with others and often those RAs and Hall Directors who are dynamic, boisterous, and engaging are frequently rewarded in our departments (at least the three I have worked for).
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
We tend to be lifted up and asked to become even more involved. That attention that we are getting from “being ourselves,” makes it hard for us to say “no” to things. We build and add to our days until a point is reached in which we physically have no more room to fit more and yet we work to find ways to add it. We do this because we feel we want to, but deep down it’s more feeling like we need to and then we hit a wall. The same wall I hit when I started my 5 blog drafts. I am comfortable presenting in front of 500 people, I am comfortable speaking up in meetings (in fact it is expected from me), I am comfortable being the so called “social chair” that is always planning things outside of work (does outside of work really happen though?), and I am comfortable being in charge and in the lead. I am uncomfortable with blogging. As an extrovert I am vulnerable and as an experiential educator by training I know that leaning into our discomfort is when we grow and learn the best. So I present this reflection as my initial post to you all to ask these questions:
1) What makes you vulnerable? and do you lean into it? or run away from it?
2) Are you paying attention to when your vulnerabilities impact your work?
For a great talk on vulnerability I recommend this video if you have not seen it yet: Brene Brown