This I Believe Vulnerability is Bravery

By Christina Ferrari

One of my passions is the stage. I acted my way through elementary school, junior high, high school and college. Even in graduate school I go on auditions around Chicago to participate in small productions or one-night gigs when it fits with my schedule. Being in front of an audience makes many people cringe, and even when I get in front of a full house I feel butterflies fluttering through my stomach every time. But, I also feel a thrill, it’s hard to put into words but standing in front of a crowd and exposing a piece of my soul through song or the words of a script causes me to feel a joy unlike anything else on the planet. Standing on stage, I am putting myself out there in the most literal sense of the word. I am exposed, I am vulnerable. I am bearing my deepest self for the world to see, judge, embrace, or disown. But, for those moments onstage, I am living without fear and being completely me.

Last semester in my Leadership theory class we listened to the words of Brene Brown, where she discussed why vulnerability is necessary for innovation, creativity, and change. She describes how vulnerability or opening yourself to others is vital in order to live a full life. As a student affairs professional, I believe higher education helps students find their voices.  We help young people be vulnerable and develop their beliefs, values, and identities to help them lead a life that they can be proud of. If they cannot share their thoughts and feelings in the college classroom or act in accordance to their values on campus, how can we expect them to become the leaders of the future? Vulnerability is bravery, it is not cowardice. Sharing yourself with others and being open to criticism is vital to becoming a socially responsible citizen.
We, as educators, can model this practice in our daily lives. Put yourself out there, volunteer for something because you believe in it. Take a risk and reach out to someone you’re intimidated by or want to learn more about. Come to the table and speak up for those whose voices go unheard. I believe if we can learn to be a little more open, a little more honest, and a little more vulnerable we will create a world that is more unified and accepting.

If you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on this topic, you’re welcome to read my other piece, “Daring Greatly”, found here:

Student Affairs - the First Years

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