The Power of Vulnerability
Happy New Year Reader!
After a year of crickets on my blog, I'd like to share in this post my lessons of vulnerability, authenticity, and my intentions for a more wholehearted 2016.
"Vulnerability is being willing to express the truth, no matter what. The truth of who you are, the essence of your core, of what you're feeling at any given moment. It's being able to open up your soul and let it flow so other people can see their soul in yours."
- Oprah Winfrey
Y'all should know that I truly love me some Oprah. Through her website I discovered a remarkable woman named Brene Brown. She's a researcher, author, and speaker on the topics of Shame and Vulnerability. Her work helped me challenge a lot of ideas I had about how vulnerability is weakness, creativity is self-indulgent, and success is defined by how much I earn. When I think about it, a lot of these ideas are not my own beliefs, they were planted from my external environment but I let them become my truth. These false-truths resulted in many moments of hardships and self-doubt but I'm learning and growing and that's what matters most.
For many, success is measured in the paper-chasing-work-grind and how busy you are that you don't have time to eat/breathe/have a social life. If that were a true measure of success then sure, you can say that I was successful last year. My self-worth was largely hinged on how 'busy' I was for the wedding season but as I reflect on the year and the achievements that I was most proud of, none of them involved earning a penny. In fact, they involved personal investments of time, skill, and being vulnerable. I participated in wildly creative photoshoots that produced published, beautiful works of art, I explored my creativity beyond hairstyling to design and handcraft a beautiful garter and hairpiece for my sister's wedding, and I poured my heart into a photoshoot where I was the makeup artist, hairstylist, creative director, and photographer. Brene states that, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." Well, amen to that.
"Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." - Brene Brown
In my profession I'm meeting new people every day and I've struggled with the idea of what a successful stylist should be like - super extroverted, chatty, loud, with a massive personality. I'd worry that a client would doubt my skill if I wasn't those things. Over this year I've realized that I should embrace who and how I am. My intention is to be down-to-earth, authentic, and connect with people. I want to make my clients feel seen, heard, and understood. A hard lesson I learned was I won't be compatible with every client that comes to me. I do have an ideal client, and it's someone that acts with mutual respect, authenticity, integrity, and openness.
Struggles with maintaining my authenticity has come up on the administrative side of my business as well. Four years ago I partnered with a big wedding network and invested time, money and trust in them for a marketing campaign. In the past it generated a lot of business leads for me and communication with administrative support was great. Last year, their business model changed, the way they addressed vendor concerns changed, and I felt like it was no longer a partnership of integrity. Our business goals were no longer aligned.
"Our ability to unlock action in the perceived face of weakness and vulnerability involves the questions we ask ourselves. So many of us focus on 'What if I fail?' ...rather than 'What if I succeed?' or What if I do nothing?"
- Jonathan Fields, founder of The Good Life Project
In this scenario, I feared not being as busy and 'successful' in the upcoming wedding season, I feared the uncertainty of less advertising exposure. But the worst feeling of all? Doing nothing and continuing to be in a relationship that felt wrong. I decided to end the relationship and take a leap of faith and trust that better opportunities were ahead.
It turns out many opportunities were ahead because I have a wonderful network of people that inspire and support me as I support them. The coolest part of this journey of vulnerability and authenticity? I'm attracting my ideal kind of clients and relationships.
My intention going forward is to redefine how I measure a successful and wholehearted life. If it involves courage, vulnerability, expressing myself creatively, authentically, and empathetically with others, then I am abundantly successful.
Wishing you your own definition of success for 2016,