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Are You Hiding Art In Your Closet? How Fear of Vulnerability Keeps Us Stuck

I've been hiding art in my closet. It might not be what you think, but I’m guilty. Let me explain.

When I was in college, my roommate and close friend of mine told me a story of a childhood friend that was a brilliant artist. She spent her spare time and money to create paintings that were masterpieces. But, she shoved all her work in her closet, to be seen by nobody.

I remember being shocked. I grilled my friend: "Why in the world would she do that? Just hang them up. Just sell them. How could you hide a talent like that?”

My older, wiser self has a strong hunch: it wasn’t talent she was afraid of showing, it was exposing her most vulnerable self. It wasn’t only talent she was to put out there, it was talent + authentic self-expression. An ideal blend that makes for pure genius. But, when we make our most soulfully crafted creations or our most original brand of genius public, we also open our deepest selves up for potential criticism, attack, rejection, shame, and misunderstanding. The stakes are high.

These high stakes moments are what drive fear of vulnerability and that fear can keep us stuck. Many of us have unique brands of genius we either hold back completely at the most or we tone down at the least because we fear the risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure associated with letting our most original ideas, truths or creations be seen. And yet, the very exposure we fear is the same exposure required to catalyze genuine connection and meaningful success. We only have our egos and people not right for us to lose and every ounce of belonging and purpose to gain by leaning into vulnerability and putting our artwork, or our true selves, on display.

With all that said...about that art I've been hiding.

I'm a writer, speaker, and coach that has been stuffing her most original work in a virtual closet called Evernote. Of the near 9,000 notes I've created since first downloading the app in 2012, hundreds (maybe thousands) are self-improvement articles and teachings of how to reach higher and dig deeper in leadership, life, and love. Culminations of my relentless fascination for personal growth, unique genius, connection, emotional intelligence, human motivation, and relationships.

In The Big Slow-Down of the pandemic, it hit me: what if the universe is waiting on me to show up as my best, most authentic self? To take a big leap of faith in showing up for myself rather than remaining hidden in fear?

This publication of my weekly writing is my pursuit of getting unstuck and moving past the fear of vulnerability. I'm transforming my private canvas into a public one. That transformation includes publicly owning a lifelong secret ambition for the first time: to be a motivational speaker, writer, and leadership coach. I want nothing more in my vocation than to see people become their best, most authentic selves and experience the energy, connection and personal power (and inevitable success) that follows.

Reflections for getting unstuck through vulnerability and self-expression:

  • What form of genius are you holding back completely at most or toning down at the least? What would it look like to disrupt that pattern?

  • Where is fear of vulnerability keeping you stuck?

  • What if the universe is waiting on you?

  • Who are the “people” or the collective "they" you are fearing so much? Are these the people that truly matter?

  • What does it look like to show up your best, most authentic self?

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