Being vulnerable doesn’t come naturally. Exposing your heart to others is scary. Risking rejection and judgment from others takes courage.
I have asked my students to write personal essays. They wrote them with the knowledge that they would be reading them to the class. It would not be private, yet many chose to expose their hearts. They talked about hidden fears, personal failings, and challenges. There were a few tears as they presented. I’m sure there were many more shed during the writing processes.
Those tears, that nervousness, were not a sign of weakness. Getting up in front of your peers and being vulnerable takes courage. We honor that courage.
We honor that courage with words of encouragement. We honor them by showing our own tears. We honor them with applause. We honor them by validating their experiences.
One of the greatest validations comes from hearing people say, “Me, too. Thank you for having the courage to speak first. I thought I was the only one who felt that way.”
There is courage in honesty. There is bravery in vulnerability. Sometimes it is exhausting. After 25 minutes of reading these essays, we had reached our capacity of emotions for the day. Sometimes it is painful. There are times that it won’t be received well. That is part of the risk. Thankfully today, that was not the case.
Today, I honor their courage. They did well. I am proud of them. May these times lead to more willingness to share honestly.
Thank you, my dear students, for giving us a piece of your heart.