How to Get Naked
Getting naked. The words arouse a variety of images do they not? Clothes on the floor. Frisky air on our skin. Sheets on our backs.
Gleams in the eye.
Either way, at first glance, getting naked seems positive.
We get naked for a variety of different occassions in life. For birth. For sex. For late night skinny dipping escapades and strange desert music festivals. Even for the most modest of us, nakedness happens every day in the morning before work and at night before bed. So at least twice a day, for those of us with semi-decent hygiene, we get naked. Physically.
But what about getting naked emotionally? What images does that conjure up for you? Close your eyes and think about it. What does getting naked emotionally feel like?
Is is the same level of excitement?
For most of us, getting naked emotionally (formally known as G.N.E.) conjures up the horrors of the middle school locker phenom. Cue giggling peers, pointing fingers, and lots of weird B.O. You feel awkward, uncomfortable, and find yourself praying no one thinks the smell is from you.
Yup, G.N.E. is as fun as unkempt armpits.
Sure, it’s important to always wear deodorant. As it’s important to often wear clothes. But there are situations in life where the garbs of our skin and the armor around our soul must be dropped. And while we are often comfortable with G.N.P., the G.N.E. feels pretty darn squirmish.
Why the difference? Why does getting naked physically arouse us into open arms and getting naked emotionally make us cower and hide our private parts? Shouldn’t it be the opposite?
Probably because somewhere along the way we learned this algorithm.
Getting Naked Emotionally (G.N.E.) = True vulnerability = Weakness = Exposure to unknown risks, emotional upheavals, openness to hurt and failure and disappointment, fully desiring and not fully getting what we want
Ooooh…. sign me up!! Right?
Of course not! No one wants that list of credentials on their resume.
Ironically, the above list are not an optional parts of life. You can’t fully live without engaging in the above activities. True, you can spend your life avoiding G.N.E, shoving emotions down, shaking your fist at the wind, but vulnerability will find you. You don’t have a choice in that.
The option you do have, however, is to remove the word “weakness” from the algorithm. As that’s the only falsifier.
Brene Brown, in her fabulous book “Daring Greatly,” which spawned many of this entry’s musings, writes this: “Vulnerability is not weakness and the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our ONLY choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to OWN and ENGAGE with our own vulnerability determines the DEPTH of our COURAGE and the CLARITY of our PURPOSE; the level to which we PROTECT ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our FEAR and DISCONNECTION.”
So let’s break this one down. To be vulnerable is an active stance. It’s the opposite of passively shaking in fear. It is the core chosen movement in a path of courageously getting what you want. It is the central action needed to step into our callings. To move forward in our relationships. To have meaningful eye contact with others. To clearly see the meaning in our days with gratitude. When we know the spaces where we are vulnerable and welcome them rather than cover them up, claiming them as our patches of humanity and wearing them with pride, we become powerful conduits of our potential. We welcome others rather than shove them away. We attract beating hearts as we have come in contact with our own. This level of courageous engagement in life requires two inquiries: A. Knowing when it is that we feel the most vulnerable. B. Noticing if we can we sit in that feeling, see ourselves, and let ourselves be seen in that place. (And then noticing how good we are at turning it off, running away, fleeing the locker room, etc.) Because without the ability to know (A) and to sit with the full gaze of (B), we are a people drenched in delusion. When we can’t engage with our own raw spaces, we will lack the ability to connect to others in theirs… meaning our lives will be filled with moments of disconnected connections. We will become the very fearful posture we wish to avoid. As most people feel most vulnerable when they are afraid. So what is that we fear? Really. And if your core answer is nothing, as mine was, then pay attention. Because those of us who are “fearless” are most likely afraid of being afraid. Yup, we are the vulnerability side-steppers. All of us like to feel invincible. Yet, as B. Brown writes, “Far from being an effective shield, the illusion of invulnerability undermines the very response we need to supply us genuine protection.” Those who feel impervious to advertising schemes are actually the ones that get sucked in the most. Athletes who do not let themselves feel pain are at the highest risk for real injury. When we don’t know where we are tender, we are at greater risk for getting hurt, the very thing we are trying to avoid. Vulnerability is our greatest shield. Yet fearlessness makes us susceptible to dangers. When we own our story, all of our story, we get to keep writing it. We get to “right” the ending. When we ignore pieces of who we are, our story begins to write us. And we lose a majority of our options. At our core, we all have different things that we don’t like thrown into the daylight. G.N.E. can stir lots of murkiness. We fear being ordinary. Wasting time. Stepping all in. Losing all. Missing out. Lacking control. Freefalling. Failing. Letting go of our selfishness. Trying out vulnerability and then becoming the T.M.I. person, where all you do is ooze way too much personal info on unsuspecting strangers. (Not that I’ve ever done that….) But time is precious. And courage ain’t cheap. Letting ourselves be seen is the bravery we need for wholehearted living. The time is now. The yes is calling us. To wait until we are perfect or bulletproof to enter life’s playground sacrifices our God-given clocks. We not only can but will lose irreversible opportunities and relationships. We will close off our gifts and shut down our creativity, stifling the very gifts we alone were designed to bestow upon earth. To me, that isn’t acceptable.
Why write on vulnerability at all? Because as hard as we try, we can’t opt out. Vulnerability is the first step to waking up. And waking up is what this blog is NOW going to be all about. (I had to eventually pick a topic, and this is the one I’m passionate about and personally need to keep re-learning, as I like to sleep in.) But I don’t like to miss life. And I know neither do you.
So welcome to the redefined jennifer-strube blog. Welcome to The Wild Awakeness Project. Your weekly guide to waking up your wide-eyed wonder and wild creativity with or without copious amounts of caffeine. So come live whole-hearted and wide-eyed with me. Every week.
Step one to waking up: Get naked.
Try it. Just for a week. See how it goes. Could be way more fun than you think.
Until next time, just keep dreaming.