Feeling lonely? Vulnerability as the key to satisfying friendships
I wanted to share some thoughts on a theme that’s been percolating in my mind recently on allowing ourselves to be seen and our satisfaction in our lives.
Thank you to my beautiful coaching client who sparked this for me by sharing how she came to a realization of how she was holding back in her relationships when she was a teacher by giving so much to others, but not sharing of herself, leading to one-sided relationships and ultimately loneliness.
I am also grateful for the winding way I always find myself led to exactly what I need. For me this weekend, this was in hearing a tidbit on a podcast called Hurry Slowly in which Mia Birdsong and Jocelyn K. Glei were speaking about the messiness of being vulnerable and about the link between vulnerability and life satisfaction.
Two things I’ve been personally working on are both my work/career and my personal relationships. I’ve been intentionally giving more time and energy to my personal relationships with friends, rekindling older friendships, and cultivating new ones, both online and in person.
My work/career/business has also been evolving and being someone who has typically derived a large part of her identity from work, it’s been weird to feel like I’m “in progress” as I meet new people and continue to find my stride and figure out this aspect of my life bit by bit. I’m starting to feel like this feeling of being in transition or sense of feeling “unfinished” around my coaching work may be my new normal, so I’m calling on my own courage in writing this as I have been in revealing myself more intimately with people one-on-one.
So let’s get into that, first off, what is vulnerability? When there’s no finished piece of art or fully formed and flawless identity to present to the world and yet here I am, that requires some courage and is me being somewhat vulnerable. Brene Brown’s definition of vulnerability is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage.” Here’s another one: when my client shared her experience of being lonely even as she was everyone’s go-to person, she was expressing vulnerability.
As for the idea of vulnerability=satisfaction, an example of where I have not shown my true self to others in my own personal life may demonstrate this link between vulnerability through my own sense of dissatisfaction. I recently attended 3 get-togethers with family/old friends and left feeling dissatisfied and yes, somewhat lonely. It took some time for me to root out and understand, what was going on?
I realized there was a sharp contrast between these interactions and the kind of gatherings I’ve been going to recently. The dissatisfaction stemmed from my own lack of any meaningful involvement with the people there, an imbalance of giving and taking, being ok with interacting with each other at the level of our roles in the family. This dissatisfaction was so STRONG and in my face because of my own personal recent emphasis on being real with people. I’ve been seeking out new (and some older) relationships, ones where I actively volunteer who I am and strive not only to know others but allow myself to be known through being real and authentic.
I’ll continue to seek out more places filled with people who are as equally welcoming as I am and where I can let myself hang out with people who are on the same wavelength as I am. This feels exciting and new and where I’d like to continue to push my edge in my personal relationships as I have been in my coaching work these past few years. Making friends as an adult — slightly terrifying and slightly exciting — who knew?!
If you’re interested in expanding your friendships or cultivating old ones, someone I’ve found invaluable in this area of making friends as an adult is Kat Velos. Her podcast with Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project entitled Cultivating Better Friendships is a great place to start.
PS. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a huge source of new, life-giving connections I recently became a part of through OPM (Other People Matter) Collective. I have so much gratitude for the beautiful new women I have recently come into contact with through joining the Solopreneur Circle. And I’m also thankful for the founder of OPM, Sophia Kokores, who’s doing such great work drawing like-minded people together in a beautiful way through connection, community, and positive psychology.
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