Navigating Authenticity

I’m an open book. Ask me a question, and with thought and full disclosure, I will answer it honestly and completely, without reservation. I hope that makes me authentic, vulnerable, real, and true to all the people I’m in contact with. And as a business person, I want to connect with my customers on this level of openness and honesty.

A few nights ago while sitting in a circle of amazing women sharing our truths, I realized that just speaking honestly to a direct question is not the same thing as vulnerability. Just because I will answer your questions, doesn’t mean that I have cut myself open and exposed myself to your potential criticism or dismissal. By the same token, I also haven’t let you in and allowed myself to feel your support or love and understanding when that is probably the time I need it most. So going forward, I’m working on vulnerability.

But first I have to understand it. Part of sharing that vulnerability is “admitting something” that I’ve kept tucked away or safeguarded against for whatever reasons, though I’m not always exactly sure what those reasons are.  I do know that keeping it all under wraps is what prevents us from exposing our most vulnerable selves.

In working with entrepreneurs, women often share their deepest darkest fears and insecurities with me. They let their hair down and expose their vulnerabilities. I often give advice and encouragement and can tell them how to do something better, get over fears, or move past those things that are holding them back. This advice comes from either my own hard learned lessons or from information I’ve gleaned from others. However, now I realize that I rarely divulge the back story of how I came to know what I know, especially if I feel it puts me in what I might consider is a less positive light or space of vulnerability.  I think I try to present that I have it all together, all the time. But none of us do.

In reality, I’m just like you. I worry if you really like me, and there are times I’m scared out of my wits that I’m not good enough, smart enough, or sure enough for the people I work with. There are many days where I feel too fat, too old, too ugly and know all too well where the skeletons are hidden. I’m shamed when I’m not kind enough or compassionate enough and when I let greed take over my mission in life. I feel guilt when I lose patience with my loved ones and display my selfish tendencies, which happens more than I care to admit.  I lose sight of my goals, fail miserably at various tasks and wonder where I fit in with the rest of the world. I feel inadequate, (often when trying to write this blog), and mad at myself when I’m not consistent with my writing, (like now, simply because I haven’t written in over a month!). But I’m determined, I work hard, and will always keep trying to improve myself and find my place of contentment and confidence. And I will continue to share my hopes and dreams, my failures and shortcomings, and hopefully learn the true art of vulnerability and trust that you will care about me unconditionally and that we will do this together.

xo, jan