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Finally Embracing Vulnerability at 40.

Let's embrace the struggle together.

This is me embracing my vulnerability at 40 years old.
This is me embracing my vulnerability at 40 years old.

In a few weeks  time I will reach my 40th year on this planet.  How did that happen? I remember when my Mum turned 40, I was 14 at the time, and thought she was ancient. My 2 kids are only 8 and 5, and they definitely think I’m old.  Arrgggg SEND HELP!!

I don’t feel 40, but It’s sometimes not until I look in the mirror that I realise I’m not 18 anymore.  But here’s the thing, despite not being 18, I still feel like that young carefree girl lives within me, it’s just a lot of the time I’ve hidden her away.   The one who used to just get drunk for fun.  The one who was first up at parties, dancing on tables, and making everyone laugh with my impressions and carefree humour.  As far as I can recall, I was definitely not someone who worried about what people thought, and thankfully there was no Social Media, to catch me in the act, or worse, a place for me to constantly character assassinate myself, and go comparison shopping 50 x a day.

I lived for the moment.  I had so much fun.  I’m sure there were plenty tears along the way, but it’s a strange one, as when I reminisce about my late teens and 20’s, I don’t remember many ( if any) that really stand out as being sad, or feeling never good enough.

I look back on those times from the age of around 19 onwards with the best memories. The word ‘Carefree’ most reflect that time in my life.

‘Youth is wasted on the young’

An old expression I used to hear a lot, but it’s not until now, that I understand the true meaning of this.  I see so many young people wanting to be like someone else, not feeling good enough.  I don’t remember it being so hard when I was their age. Young, beautiful girls as young as 18 getting fillers, botox, and having this deep need to change their face, to fit in, or to look like the next influencer on Social Media. Using filters in every single picture that they post, affirming to themselves every time they do this, that they are not enough.  I know for sure, that Influencers, and many people in the public eye, who I’ve worked with, also find doing this completely exhausting too. I must add, that this is not just young people, it’s people of any age, but it’s starting earlier and earlier.

As a young girl, the biggest issue and ‘trend’ I faced was sunbeds.  Always feeling like I resembled a corpse, so of course, I wanted to have that sun kissed look too.  So, I’d hammer those sunbeds like no one’s business.  It was definitely a ‘thing’ that we all did in the 90’s.  I remember my best friend Janine and I being 13 years old and going on her Mum’s sunbed that she had hired for a month (yes, you could actually hire a sunbed.)

The company ‘Tan Tastic’ would deliver it to your house.  Janine and I would top & tail on the thing together.  We would pop the timer on for 30 mins, her at one end and me at another, and just chat about school and any other things that 13 & 14-year-old girls do.  Now you may be reading this in absolute disbelief at a 13 year old girl going on a sunbed, but here’s the thing, we had no idea of the dangers of sunbeds back then like we do now. 

Over the years, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been burned to a crisp and resembling a human tomato. Arrrgggg, what was I thinking? So, I guess, to some extent, that was my way of fitting in and not fully embracing myself?!  Thankfully, except for a few lines, and some bad pictures there was no permanent damage.  When I did learn that the overuse of a sunbed was bad for me, I moved on to fake tan.  Every Thursday night, without exception, I would literally slap on the fake tan. Smelling like a cross between a digestive biscuit and dog food, but didn’t care, as I felt I was pretty horrible without it.  It’s not until now, I look back at old pics of myself looking like a reject from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, that I laugh.  Boy was I orange?!  There was no telling me though.

I dread to think what crap would be plastered across social media about me if phones had the same meaning in life as they do now.  In the 90’s (and not that long ago) I was able to make a complete ass of myself, and it was never recorded and posted on Social Media.

It’s such hard work now?!

Isn’t it just? Having to look good in every picture. Having to ‘vet’ every single picture before it gets posted on your Social Media, through fear of it showing any of your ‘flaws’ AKA the parts of you you don’t like and want to hide from the world.  The constant comparison shopping.  The zooming in on the pic, only to nip pick at every single part of it, and unless it’s got a filter, it’s not getting posted.  How hard it feels to live in a space where the only way you feel good about yourself is when a filter is on?

Of course, a filter makes you look amazing, the perfect skin, the glow, the glossy hair, the bright eyes.  It can literally not only take 10 years off you, and make you look slimmer, it can also make you look like a completely different person. I’ve often wished there was a filter to make me look like I had nice feet. Instead I hide them when ever I can. That’s another story though.

Here’s the thing, every single time we pop a filter on our pictures, we are affirming that we are not good enough. 

As a Life Coach, I have worked a number of people, who have really struggled with their image and how they see themselves. Much of this stems from what’s on Social Media, because let’s face it, you are comparing yourself to a highlight reel, when in fact, this person often doesn’t look like the image.  I’ve witnessed girls getting fillers, and literally changing the whole look of their face because they have spent so long using filters on Social Media that they end up with social anxiety about going outside, through fear of people seeing ‘the real them’.

Love it or loathe it, Social Media is going nowhere, so how can we get everyone to embrace their truth and truest version of themselves more? To love and embrace their uniqueness, their  wholeness?

We are so scared to be vulnerable, yet what’s interesting, is that when someone shows a bit of vulnerability, we love it. One that sticks out for me recently is a post on Instagram by Stacey Solomon (@staceysolomon).  She was in her bikini, showing us her incredible body.  She was brave enough to show her body in all it’s entirety. She wasn’t a size 8, with a flat tummy, and airbrushed, and her caption was all around loving your body, no matter what society tries to say.  This post got almost 500,000 likes, compared to many of her other posts which are less than half that amount.  Why? That’s easy, we love it when someone is real, and shows vulnerability. It gives us all permission to do the same.

So why is it then, that we still hold back from being our true selves, and embracing vulnerability? We love it when others do it, as it reminds us that it’s OK to be ‘me’, but we still struggle to put ourselves out there and live in our truth.  This fear of being judged for being ourselves.   Stacey talked about society telling us ‘we are not good enough’ but given that we, are in fact society, we are wholly responsible for doing this to ourselves.

Anxiety, depression, self-loathing, and self-harm. 

Much of this comes from the stories we tell ourselves.  We are all in this together, we all want to feel accepted, connected and loved, but this must start with truth.  Owning our truth, being brave enough to step into our own unique power.

My mission this year, as I turn 40, is to create a movement, and make vulnerability sexy.

It must be hard work, and pretty exhausting having to edit and filter pictures, to show up in life telling the world you’re feeling amazing, searching for validation and allowing ‘likes’ on Social Media make or break your day. You are literally putting your happiness in to someone else’s hands. This will only ever either give you either a short instant gratification, or make you feel inadequate, and not good enough.  The truth is, you are the one that’s in control of this.  It’s no one else’s responsibility, it’s on you.

It’s no wonder it feels hard, when you’re trying to fit in to a box, or be someone other than yourself.  It’s always going to feel hard. How would it feel if you were to show up as you? The real you, without all the bullshit? Pretty scary?

What If you didn’t worry about what others thought? You had no fear, and you knew, for sure you wouldn’t be judged?  How would you show up in life then? Would you feel you needed to be someone other that your beautiful, unique self?

I truly believe if we all begin to let go of the need to be validated, and begin to love ourselves by owning and embracing the parts of us we try so hard to hide, then we will not only heal ourselves, but heal others too. 

Everything is just a state of mind. 

Loving yourself and feeling ‘enough’ will never come from anything other than you.  Make the choice to connect with your whole self this year.  Searching out with, will only ever make you feel unfulfilled and possibly rejected.

I’m not saying it’s easy, and it can be scary, but over on the other side of fear is true transformations. You could start by practicing positive affirmations in front of a mirror.  There’s a great book by Louise Hay called Mirror Work, which I’d highly recommend.  Or you could start today, and post your first no filter picture up, with the hashtag #makevulnerabilitysexy 

Trust me, people are watching, and in you doing this, will give others permission to do the same.

Together, let’s really create a movement this year, and #makevulnerabilitysexy

Love Jill x

If you want to join me in this movement, I would love to connect.

Instagram – @justjillcoaching

Facebook – Jill Ritchie – Intuitive Life Coach

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