From the outset, I should say that these thoughts have nothing to do with society’s criminal element, and everything to do with an expression used to describe our most vulnerable parts.

In the past week I’ve spoken with friends who have been criticised for exposing their bellies.  Unfortunately, those they sought to help by sharing their own shortcomings, perceived them as weak and used the information against them.  

It takes great courage to be honest with ourselves, and even greater courage to share that challenging truth with others.

A decision to reveal our kryptonite comes with significant personal risk, but those who do it know the importance of being real. They understand the value of authenticity and the power it has to connect and validate.

Being vulnerable in this context is for the benefit of the listener. It isn’t a ploy for sympathy or pity, and it isn’t to compare woes. It doesn’t indicate a constant state of disrepair, and it isn’t just an opportunity to air dirty laundry to anyone who’ll listen.

The conversations I’m talking about need to take place – not to glorify hardship but to bear witness to the reality of life. These are the conversations I want my children to hear. As young adults, I hope they meet people who will be honest with them about how they feel, how they manage, how they cope; because these are the conversations that give perspective to those who think they are alone.

If we present ourselves as always being ‘together’, ‘infallible’, ‘perfect’, we perpetuate the myth that the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is too wide to traverse. It breeds unrealistic expectations to which we must measure up and feeds the notion that we are all so vastly different.

…and we are not.

Treasure those who speak openly of their faults, and honour the risk they have taken to be vulnerable. You may gain nothing from their story, but the next person they speak with may desperately need to hear those words – how you respond, may determine if that risk is ever taken again.


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