Much like failure, the idea of being vulnerable, or vulnerability, is uncomfortable . The definition boils down to the fact that being vulnerable leaves us at risk. It is uncertainty of an outcome to the extreme. And it carries tremendous value in both personal and professional growth.
Frankly, I have been thinking about this topic a lot over the last 5 weeks. I am not sure I have ever been more physically (or mentally) vulnerable in my life. And it is extremely uncomfortable.
After my knee surgery, which I have given up describing and succumbed to stating is ‘essentially a partial reconstruction,’ I have been unable to place any weight on my right leg and am on crutches. In this setting, I can do very few things for myself and even walking around my house carries legitimate risk of falling - I am vulnerable to potential physical harm.
There are two steps to get into my house from the driveway - not big, not even in a row - a step onto the cement platform and then several feet later, the step over the threshold of the door. Two steps I have taken for granted. Two steps that left me frozen in fear of falling and crying as I stood on my crutches in front, considering how to suspend all of my weight on those two metal frames, to be able to get into my house. I wasn’t just physically vulnerable, I was mentally vulnerable too. I felt helpless, weak, scared and incapable. In that moment, I realized if I could not go up two steps, I could not leave my house either. I had to be vulnerable. And I had to ask for help.
I have asked for a lot of help the last few weeks. More than I think I ever have. Help with my kids, my house. Help with work. Even help with basic tasks, like getting in and out of the shower. I have also learned to accept help with gratitude. To appreciate every offer for help and act of help given. I am blessed with an amazing circle of family and friends to whom I hold a much deeper level of love, respect and gratitude for.
Stepping into a vulnerable place, acknowledging it and asking for help in navigating it, enriches us. Yes, it is hard and painful at times. Yes, vulnerability is scary - anything with risk is. But, what is the reward without risk? Where is there courage without uncertainty?
More fears and tears were laid at the threshold of my own front door than I would care to admit. More than a simple step or the need for crutches. Fear of not being physically or mentally strong enough. Fear of simply not being enough.
Today, I am now an old pro at going up and down those stairs. An old pro, now keenly aware of what vulnerability looks and feels like for me. How it forces me to grow and the importance of stepping despite the discomfort and fear. The value of vulnerability.