Great Expectations: Vulnerability, Authenticity, Worthiness

“You’re so skinny.” These words, meant as a compliment, became the catalyst for a relationship that would later become difficult.

I’ve been blessed with good health but, like many others, body image has been an up and down struggle. After losing my extra university pounds after graduation, I’ve kept them off with occasional exercise and sometimes…not eating.

With that skinny comment on a first date, I put pressure on myself to maintain a certain appearance. This was actually someone who knew me from university and would think I was attractive even if I gained 20 pounds. To be clear, I did this. I didn’t want to be one of those people that “let themselves go” when they got a boyfriend. The voices of “you’re fat and ugly” from years ago still lingered. Not surprisingly, going for dinners would be frustrating as I would get full quickly.

Fast forward 6 months to when, now single, I asked myself: why can’t I be in a normal and happy relationship like everyone else? The answer begins and ends with me.

After much Oprah-esque reflection, yoga and reading it became crystal clear; worthiness. How could I expect to be loved, and treated with respect, by anyone if I didn’t have those same feelings for myself?

It may seem like common sense, but this need to please has permeated my life since childhood. Always trying to get high grades, be the “good” girl, set an example for my family, etc.

How often do we let others’ words or behaviour change how we live our life? Afraid to stir the pot, we hold back on our authenticity and try to live up to public expectations. Of course, the façade of social media doesn’t help. Perfect moms, perfect husbands, perfect babies, perfect meals, perfect jobs; how do they do it all? What am I doing wrong?

I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s book “Daring Greatly”, and believe that letting vulnerability into our lives is a start. By allowing ourselves to show that we don’t always have it all and know it all, is courageous. Saying I love you, voicing an opinion at meetings, sharing a piece of art you painted; these are all steps to becoming more authentic.

The key is to be able to do this with no expectations. If the team supports your idea, that’s fantastic! But don’t burden yourself that now every suggestion has to be awesome or else what will they think of me? Maybe he didn’t reciprocate your feelings of love? This doesn’t change your identity.

At the end of the day, you are enough. I am enough.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” – Brené Brown