Being vulnerable: Taking off your armour and asking for help

Pieces of a suit of armour arranged in a line

What does it mean to be vulnerable? Or rather, what does it mean for me to be vulnerable, as I reckon its personal rather than generic.

The dictionary definition of vulnerable: exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

Putting myself out there

I’ve just posted a blog at the Huffington Post commenting on Arts Council England’s online access to their State of the Arts conference – so that should make me vulnerable?  After all, I’m putting myself and my views up and out there to be shot down.

But I’m (oddly?) ok with that kind of exposure. It feels ok, comfortable, even mildly exciting. I’m in my area of expertise – arts, access and inclusion. I have allies around me and there is no real risk to me.

If that’s not risky then, what is?

Emotional armour

I read a great blog on Valentine’s day about vulnerability by Brené Brown. Called Lovenote to the workaholic, it looks under the emotional armour people often wear for work and then find hard to take off at home.

One line in it really struck home for me: “One of the most commonly held and dangerous myths about vulnerability is that being vulnerable means being weak. Yet vulnerability is simply the uncertainty, exposure and emotional risk we face every day, from asking for help.”

Asking for help

So when do I ask for help? When do I let the world know that I’m just another human and I can’t do everything all of the time?

I’ll admit, I find it extremely hard. I’ve realized much of my self-image is centred on independence so I find it difficult to allow other versions of me out to play. So just to prove I can flex, can show my range, here are three tiny situations where I have needed help this week, and my thanks to those who helped me:

  • I couldn’t get my new computer set up right – my husband saw me becoming stressed and stepped in with sage advice, an alternative strategy and practical support. Thank you.
  • I’ve joined a creative writing course and suddenly found I couldn’t post up a thing, even the simplest task, for fear of failing – a friend talked me through what I was doing, and gently encouraged me to simply get on with it. Turned out that was all I needed. Thank you.
  • I managed to schedule a lunch meeting with someone over half term on a day I said I’d take the kids out. My eldest daughter (and her daughter too) came with us so she could take my younger ones to lunch whilst I slipped off to my meeting and then legged it back to continue shopping. Thank you to all three of you – and to the new Build-A-Bear’s you managed to create in the time I was away!

I did say they were tiny examples. I’m not sharing any bigger examples more publically – that would make me way too vulnerable! But I am thinking about when and how I take my armour off.

Thanks to KaiAlex81 for the image and if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.