“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” ~Sigmund Freud
I was recently in a business seminar when a student shyly revealed that she had a certain health issue. The instructor squinted like she was taking aim, then informed us that this was an example of excessive transparency. “Too much transparency,” she said, “reveals your vulnerability and makes others feel they can take you down. Beware.”
I wanted to take her down, just because she’d been such a stone cold bitch to this poor woman. I wanted to grip the lapels of her ill-fitting poly-blend blazer and turn her toward a widescreen viewing of Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability”. I wanted to prove that she had it backwards, that vulnerability actually helps us connect with others in a big, brave way. Instead, I just marveled at how I’d never seen a woman who looked so much like Ronald Reagan. (Seriously, she was a dead ringer.)
This is a blog about embracing uncertainty–in career and in life in general. People, there is going to be some transparency. Cozy up.
Let’s start here: Several years ago, the economy tanked. Obviously.
Where were you when it happened? I sometimes want to ask people–from cousins at my family reunion to strangers in the street–as if it was the Kennedy assassination or the Challenger explosion. It has not been so instantaneous an disaster, but a disaster nonetheless.
I think of my friends who took a work sabbatical to travel around the world from 2008 to 2009. I think of how jealous I was of the guy who bought both a small house and a fuel-efficient hybrid that year. Still others planned lavish weddings, but now surely wonder: Um, sweetie, should we have skipped those thousand-dollar monogrammed petit fours? Within six to twelve months, most of these people would have their proverbial shuttle explode too, slammed by the economy in one way or another.
I was lucky, sort of. I caught the brunt of it early, just as Obama took office. On the one hand, this was utterly isolating, since being broke was not even remotely socially acceptable. No one rallied as the 99% or whatever, and no one cared that I couldn’t afford my car registration. Yet soon everyone would care, while I’d have bounced back.
This was the thin but sparkly silver lining: By the time my peers were pink slipped or foreclosed or [fill in the blank with standard Recession horror story], I could offer empathy that I’d not widely received. It was as though I’d explored some kind of dark, forgotten socioeconomic territory and returned with shreds of a map. Are you lost? Maybe I can show you the way.
So: Where was I when it happened? In 2008, I was a freelance writer Continue reading