Take courage, my friend.

To be alive is to be vulnerable.
— Madeleine L’Engle

The art of vulnerability is to open yourself up and take a risk in the face of fear – fear of the unknown, of failure, or of rejection – in the hope of discovering connection and joy. It’s one of the most frightening and exhilarating things we can do.

Author and research professor, Brené Brown calls those who are vulnerable in spite of the fear ‘shame resilient’. In her 2010 TedTalk and her most recent book, Daring Greatly, Brown explores the power of vulnerability and how being vulnerable makes one more courageous, with greater capacity for connectedness and a more wholehearted life.

Former New York Times executive editor, Jill Abramson recently showed her own resilience in an admirable commencement address at Wake Forest University, her first appearance following her public firing. In the very act of showing up, she set an example of courage for those young grads to take with them and hold onto on the journey ahead.

Being vulnerable is letting go of what we feel we are supposed to do and living our truth, embracing the fear and discovering our own path.

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As marketing guru, Seth Godin explains in V is for Vulnerability, being vulnerable is what it takes to be a true artist.

“Vulnerable is the only way we can feel when we truly share the art we’ve made. When we share it, when we connect, we have shifted all the power and made ourselves naked in front of the person we’ve given the gift of our art to. We have no excuses, no manual to point to, no standard operating procedure to protect us. And that is part of our gift.”

Opening yourself up to creating and sharing your own art, whatever form that might take, is a roller coaster of fear and courage, failure and success, disappointment and joy. But what else is life for, if not to be lived – to understand and be true to yourself, and to share your gifts with others?

A recent Brain Pickings article featured author Dani Shapiro’s thoughts on vulnerability, from a great interviewwith Design Matters host, Debbie Millman.

“Deep inside, we are all so much the same – our details might be different, but we are all kind of walking the same internal path. And when I allow myself to be vulnerable, I am allowing myself to connect. I’m allowing people to connect to me.”

On sharing our true gifts, she says, “all we can hope is that we will fail better. That we won’t succumb to fear of the unknown… Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt – spectacularly, brazenly – into the unknown.”

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and having the courage to share your gifts with the world is not easy.

But life awaits.