It’s easy to feel confident or optimistic when we feel like we have a lot of security behind us.
But what happens when all of those securities are gone? What happens when we let go of everything for the guarantee of nothing? What if the questions we avoid, the ones that make us uncomfortable, are the ones holding the most insight?
It’s been more than three years since I walked away from everything that I had, that I knew, and that I was comfortable with. There was a general plan in place when Betty (my partner, SO, companion, girlfriend, she’s even been referred to as my wife) and I decided to live life on the road, but those plans were altered or had to be changed again and again and again.
When things don’t work out the way that we intended them to, it can be inconvenient and annoying at first, to say the least.
I began writing down my thoughts and ideas and feelings somewhere along the way as a means to help me understand and process everything that was happening and that I was going through internally. Not only did I begin writing things down, I decided to start sharing them publicly for some odd reason, which is even more peculiar as I am typically a quiet and reserved person. I figured I’m already wading into a strange new world, might as well dive all the way in and see what happens.
I’ve been in vulnerable situations before, but as long as I could help it, it was always a guarded or cautious vulnerability. The type that I felt that I could retreat from quickly with minimal damage to my ego, my self-esteem, my psyche. It would be like sticking my foot out from under the covers on an icy cold morning to see how cold it was and then yanking my foot back in as soon as I felt the cold air.
But this time it was different; this time it was like jumping clear out of bed on that same icy cold morning only to find that the bed was suddenly gone and my clothes were nowhere to be found. Now what?
When we open ourselves up to being vulnerable then we are no longer in our comfort zone; it is when we feel that we are no longer in control. When we are used to being in control, this can be awkward, uncomfortable, or even downright scary. In an age that seems obsessed with comfort, conviction, competency, and control, why should we make space for vulnerability? It’s not like anybody has ever won an award for being “The Most Vulnerable.”
We don’t even like when the unexpected happens, unless, of course, it is to our benefit. So why would we deliberately subject ourselves to a vulnerable—not to be confused with life threatening or illegal—situation?
We never realize how much we do, or don’t do, something until we actively attempt the opposite. We don’t realize how much we are used to getting our way until we put ourselves in a place where no one knows us, much less cares who we are.
It was a scary thing to consciously and voluntarily put myself out there, to willingly make myself vulnerable.
There are those who would say that living out of a truck is a disadvantage, that allowing ourselves to be exposed will make us more susceptible to hurt or disappointment or any number of negative things.
Sure, that’s a possibility, but isn’t that a risk even when we are at our most guarded? We can focus on what we have to lose or we can focus on what we have to gain, and I propose that each one is equally real because neither one has happened yet. By not putting ourselves in a vulnerable position, we feel that we are staying safe. As a consequence, we are not risking anything, and by not risking anything, we may be risking more.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable was, in fact, the most empowering thing that I have ever done. It helped me see the generosity of strangers in a new and different way. It made every experience richer and more meaningful. It made my relationship with Betty more purposeful. Many things that I thought I was attached to became irrelevant. Self-prescribed boundaries began to soften and change and in some cases—almost disappear. Probabilities became possibilities.
When my focus became more internal and not external, it’s when my openness brought about changes that I never saw coming.
I began to see myself in unexpected ways. I could see more of my own shortcomings; I saw parts of myself that I didn’t like or didn’t even know existed because I wasn’t hiding anymore.
I went to places both mentally and physically that I didn’t realize I was capable of reaching as all of my perceived boundaries and convictions and limits were stretched and pushed and challenged. I was being open and showing myself who I really was. Every time that I reached a new place that I didn’t think was achievable, I discovered more of myself, and every time I discover an undiscovered part of me, it makes it all worth it.
How can we see how much control we are trying to assert if we never surrender it? How can we know our strengths if we don’t befriend our vulnerabilities?
By facing the questions that made me uncomfortable and allowing myself to be vulnerable, I exposed myself.
When we give ourselves permission to be vulnerable, it’s when the beauty and the magic of life begins to reveal itself to us.
To be vulnerable is to experience life and every painful, frightening, imperfect, unique, incredible, and beautiful moment, not hide from it. To be vulnerable is to discover ourselves; to be vulnerable is to be human.
Sure, there may be a whole lot to lose if we give ourselves permission to be vulnerable, but I believe there is a whole lot more to gain. To let go of everything for the guarantee of nothing is to experience freedom and more of this amazing experience that we call being human.
I let go of everything for the guarantee of nothing, and in the process of exposing myself, I began to see the real me, not the person who I believed I was or the one who I wanted to be—but the genuine and true me.
I began to discover myself.