After years of introspective work and personal growth, I learned how to be vulnerable and how to ask for help. It was a personal journey that required me to admit a few things to myself but, in the end, I am a stronger and more confident women because of it.
The Power of Vulnerability
Most of us grew up thinking that asking for help was a sign that you didn’t know how to accomplish something or where to find the answer. And if you are anything like me, your drive and competitiveness often kept you from raising your hand to ask for help or with the answer because you couldn’t stand the thought of asking a stupid question or saying the “wrong” answer out loud. You were afraid of the all-eyes-on-you moment of failure and you would rather quietly struggle than subject yourself to a moment of vulnerability.
Being vulnerable feels like a spotlight and requires you to open yourself up to the possibility of being judged. It forces you to lower your shield and expose yourself and being exposed isn’t exactly comfortable or empowering. This narrative isn’t anything new and it’s something that we have all grappled with at one point or another. As millennial women, we have all had moments where we have chosen to go at it alone because we’ve felt we had something to prove – that we are strong, that we are independent, that we can figure shit out for ourselves. But figuring shit out on your own all the time gets old and sometimes you just need help.
So what if the key to strength is allowing yourself to be vulnerable? What if what you were never told was that asking for help didn’t and doesn’t make you weak, but that it gives you strength?
Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.
What being vulnerable allows you to do is ask for help; not the desperate, I’m-barely-keeping-my-nose-above-water help but the strategic help that empowers you to reach your goals. Being vulnerable is about being honest about yourself to others and making admissions about how you could use help. Doing so positions you for success because, when you are strategic, you can ask for the right kind of help. Allow yourself to have the confidence, humility and drive it take to be vulnerable and while on your journey, remember a few things:
Don’t be an island
There is so much value in having inner strength and the ability to persevere but, taken too far, stubbornness and arrogance will isolate you. Learn that there is a difference between being dependent and interdependent and that allowing yourself to be interdependent does not detract from your personal assets. Create fruitful interdependent relationships that are founded in collaboration. Align yourself with people who add value to your experiences and, in turn, round out your holistic being.
Take the armor off
Don’t let fear and pride keep you from asking for help when you really need it. The struggle is real and we all need to admit that more often. Your fear about being judged is mostly in your head and, besides, why would we care about what negative nelly over there is saying anyways?
The only way to overcome your insecurities and limitations is to let your guard down, talk to people about your struggles, and be receptive to the guidance they provide. You will be amazed at what you can learn about yourself when you are truly honest with people about what’s going on. No one is going to know that you need help if you are always wearing emotional armor. Which leads me to my next point…
Don’t pretend you’re not a mess when you are a mess
Let’s face it, we need to get over ourselves. We need to stop pretending that things are great and that our lives are filled with success and jubilation and that being underwhelmed, falling short, and failure are not part of our stories. Be honest with yourself and be honest with your support system. Admit that you are struggling when you are struggling. Ask for guidance. Accept help. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re not a hot mess when (let’s face it) you might be.
I learned to vulnerable the hard way. I was notorious for struggling silently (or not so silently) because I was overly determined to figure things out for myself. But, overtime, my own stubbornness was my defeat and I was forced to finally ask for help. Through my own journey, I have learned to accept my personal weaknesses and strengthen myself by surrounding myself with people who have the qualities and skills that supplement my limitations. Once I allowed myself to say (out loud and in front of people) that I had reached my breaking point, I gave myself the green light to put down the shield and rope in the partners and tools I needed to in order to work smarter. My moment of vulnerability was the impetus for the wonderful and collaborative relationships I now have; relationships that give me strength. Find and create the stronger version of yourself. All you have to do is raise your hand.