On being vulnerable

I suck at letting myself be vulnerable. Really I do.

I hate being judged, told I’m not good enough, or that I’m wrong. I also really (really) hate feeling stupid. I know many people dislike being in these situations, but I get so wound up by these feelings that I don’t put myself in situations where I risk being told these things. Especially in public.

In private, and in one-on-one conversations (or even on twitter), I’m more than happy to vocalise and share thoughts. And the knowledge and thoughts I have has helped inform public debate, reshaped some of the conversations around some of the topics I consider really important, and gone into academic and policy papers – indeed I help write some of the latter. Somehow the conversations and emails leading to these felt transient and safe.

When it comes to something that feels more permanent, or if it’s a situation in which I don’t feel comfortable, I hide. Most of the time not literally (although it has been none), but I make sure I’m not in a place where others can criticise me. Why? Because I’m scared of being judged badly. And my threshold where that fear kicks in is rather stupidly low.

As such I don’t blog or write as much as I should, I don’t accept invitations to, and I rarely ask for help from others. And I do my best to hold on to control in all manner of different situations.

It’s stopping me from doing a number of things that I want to do, and it’s preventing me growing in ways in which I’d like to grow. And I’m really determined to try and change that.

So this year I’ll be doing my best to ask myself why I run away from certain situations (and the answer of ‘it’s because of my past’ isn’t going to be good enough, even though it is understandable). And I’ll be trying to reduce the effect that my fear has on me. This means, for instance, blogging a lot more – and not waiting for thoughts and ideas to be ‘perfect’ before sharing them. And I’m going to accept more speaking invitations, and force myself to ask for help more.

And this is all rather intimidating prospect. But, I’ll do my best. And hopefully, I don’t f*$k up too badly. Or at least in ways it can’t be fixed.

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