The Power of Vulnerability…and, Jennifer Lawrence

I’m in majah love with Jennifer Lawrence. And if my Facebook feed is any indication, all of you are, too. My first peek into the awesomeness that is J-Law was during a screening of Winter’s Bone. Lighthearted it was not, but at only gty_jennifer_lawrence_fall_thg_130224_wblog19, she displayed a depth of understanding of things that I never in my life hope to know by actually living through them.

Fast forward several years and she’s the face of one of the biggest book-to-movie franchises of our generation. Did I love Hunger Games? I’ll spare you the hyperbole. Read: OMGGGGG, yes.

Now, I’ve never seen Silver Linings Playbook, nor do I have any intention. Knowing what I know about the story, it deals with things that are, quite frankly, too close to home. And I believe in cinema as a form of escapism, not a reflection of real life. In this case, my own.

Eww, did I just use the word “cinema?”Be right back – gotta go stick a dollar in the douche jar. Sorry, folks.

So back to Jennifer Lawrence. I love her, you love her. But why? Why the sudden fascination with someone who merely tripped up a flight of stairs in front of eleventy billion people? Not because of how she fell, but because of how she picked herself up.

Yes, she’s beyond gorgeous, more talented than any starlet her age, and has a self-effacing humor that can charm the pants off a priest (oh wait, is that so hard these days?). But what she has above all else is a sense of vulnerability that not only defines the depth of her talent but endears her to every imperfect human. In other words, all of us.

She allows herself to be human. She doesn’t just pretend to be “just like us.” She actually is just like us. She’s all of – what – 23? And she’s fearless. She doesn’t allow the rules of Hollywood to determine what she says and how she says it. That’s not to say she’s a brat – she just allows herself to be seen.

If you’ve watched it, you know there’s so much to say about Brene Brown’s TED Talk about the power of vulnerability. I could spend 20 posts on that alone. But according to Brown, “in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen. Really seen.”

Today, I allowed myself to be seen.

In my personal life, I recently ended what has been an important relationship for the better part of the past year. In my professional life, I’ve been dealing with work so challenging that I’ve been paralyzed with worry.

And today, I broke. At work, in front of colleagues, in earshot of my boss (who, thankfully, didn’t hear). For a moment (or six), I allowed the proverbial floodgates to open, threw my hands in the air, and shouted surrender. Or, obscenities. But yeah, mostly surrender.

And while I’m not yet rid of the pain and the worry that caused the break in the first place, there was something so freeing in that moment of vulnerability. In all of its ridiculousness.

Brown talks about having the courage to be imperfect. If you know me, you know I have an irrational fear of imperfection. At 31, I still crap myself at even a whiff of failure. This week has left me paralyzed with fear, both personally and professionally. Fear of never being able to open up again in a relationship. Fear of asking for help when work becomes more than I can bear.

In the middle of writing this post, I texted my best friend and said, “Can you tell me something that you like about me? I’m feeling really blue.” (Yes, this is what best friends do for each other).

“My favorite thing about you is your ability to be so open and vulnerable.” Then, she complimented my cinnamon brownies. But that’s another story for another day.

I couldn’t believe it. Just as I’m thinking it’s the thing with which I struggle, she’s commending my fearlessness.

Social media has become a crutch. It’s a world in which we can communicate in ways that don’t betray an underlying sense of fear. But when we don’t have that crutch – or, rather, we don’t rely on it – we uncover how vulnerable we actually are.

When we divorce ourselves from the facade we create online, we allow ourselves to break, to fall, to confront our imperfections with real people, in real time, in real life. To look ridiculous. To uncover the truth about ourselves. To show fear in the face of failure. Even, in some cases, to fall.

And ultimately, with the help of our real friends, in real time, in real life, we pick ourselves back up.

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2 thoughts on “The Power of Vulnerability…and, Jennifer Lawrence

  1. Beautiful post Megan. Opening up like this is not only releasing for yourself but also connecting with so many others. With where I am right now in my life, it’s easy to become worried so I tend to suck it up, hide my vulnerability and put on a smile because that’s… well, accepted. But it’s refreshing to share with others through writing because you soon realize that which you fear could actually be your safety net.

    1. Janine – Thank you so much for the kind words. As I mentioned before, so much of YOUR writing has inspired me to be open, so I really appreciate the note.

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