“When we stop caring what other people think we lose our capacity for connection. When we are defined by what people think we lose our willingness to be vulnerable.” – Brene Brown
I have been reading/watching things on TED since my postgrad in public relations the summer of ’09. I dabble in some of the “Tech Talks” but I am far more interested in the videos and essays on the human condition. Delving into the vast reasons behind what makes people act and react has always intrigued me. Maybe I have had one too many people in my life that make me shake my head and think “WTF?” or maybe it’s because I do one too many things that make me think the same, times two (thank you alcohol and the occasional bout of social awkwardness). Nonetheless, as geeky as it sounds and as shocking as it may seem (to those who only know me on a certain level) I love learning…unless of course I am really not interested. If you ever find me in a conversation that I could care less about you will see me shake my head in understanding and curiosity when I am really thinking about what I should have for dinner, or, if the person happens to be particularly cute, all the other things I wish I could be doing with him aside from having this boring conversation. When it come to Brene Brown, author of the quote above my own gibberish ramblings, her words transcend my grumbling stomach or thoughts of a cute boy’s body pressed up against mine (and this is not an easy task). Brown is a researcher, writer and all-around cool individual. One of the topics that Brown famously covers is vulnerability. I have a phobia when it comes to vulnerability (one of the first things you learn about yourself in Sarcasm 101). Of all the things that I could potentially fear in this life, I would have to say that vulnerability tops them all. I am not alone though. As I get older and learn more about myself and those around me, it becomes clear that problems with vulnerability causes the majority of disconnect between people. Why do we think social media has become so prevalent in modern day society? It sure as hell isn’t convenience alone. Social media creates a person-to-person severance that eases the chances of being put in an overly vulnerable situation. Not only are we scared of being vulnerable but we are scared of those who can find it in themselves to be that way. We feel uncomfortable with it and often, sometimes without even realizing it, we make those people feel “bad” or “weird” for being able to express themselves from a place that has become completely foreign to us. Emotional racists we are. Brown has done extensive research into why certain people cannot get to that place of mature vulnerability and how others seem to thrive in it. I find the best way to accept or change something is to educate myself. If I read something and it resonates with me, I can begin to make the decision to change what I don’t like and accept the things I do but am afraid others will not. You only get one “kick at the can” at life, might as well understand why it is you are kicking.