(Note:this blog has been sitting in my drafts folder for a few months now. Oddly I was feeling too vulnerable to publish it…)
I have been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately. Both as a part of myself and as an aspect of my performances.
Last year I went to Canberra to be a Judge at Kitten of the Year along side Holly J’aDoll and Lauren LaRouge. It was really a wonderful experience with lots of great performances, and special for me as many years ago Kitten of the Year was the very first show I performed in. Before the show we got to interview each contestant, which was a great way of seeing some of their personality shine through.
I was moved by a lot of responses to our questions. How the Miss Kitka’s course has changed their lives and made them more confident. I can personally vouch that the course is truly empowering.
Each contestant has to study a performer from the past, and devise a tribute performance. If the performer is alive they are supposed to also contact the performer and get permission. Some of the contestants from this year and previous years have formed friendships with these performers- something that is wonderful to hear about and keeps the links to our history alive.
One contestant- Sugar Starr – did a tribute to: “the Bearded Lady” She explained to us that the central aspect of her performance was about vulnerability.
Vulnerability, can be seen as something quite scary. The dictionary defines it as: capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.
Wow, capable of being hurt… I am a person who shows my vulnerability. It has always been the case. I think it is part of what makes me a good performer. If I feel something you see it on my face, it is there for the world to see and judge. I cry easily. I get hurt easily.
I’ve struggled with this all my life, for to show emotion and vulnerability, leaves one open to the cruel, those looking to bolster their own ego or those looking to take advantage of it. So over the years I have learnt to protect some of my vulnerability with some armour. Just enough to fight off those who will take advantage, but still leave me open to the great things that can come from showing my vulnerability. It’s really important to me, to not let those people change who I essentially am. I’d rather be hurt occasionally, when the alternative is to shut myself off from my emotions.
Brené Brown puts it into words far more eloquent:
“You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle. But there’s another way, and I’ll leave you with this. This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”
I’ll leave you with this great TED talk. Listen to it- it is worth it: