By Alicia Van Couvering
I used to believe that honesty was all that mattered. Deep, raw, uncut vulnerability was the key to a fearless life, and should be encouraged in every interaction. So I let my tendency to overshare run wild. I never tried to impress anyone by buttoning up and staying composed; I only wanted to know them, and to make sure they knew me. I admitted my worst mistakes; I had no secrets; I had no strategy. It allowed me to skip the line of polite conversation and get right to the intimacy I craved. Executives would cry about their divorces at lunch; new friends would reveal it all. It was scary sometimes—I would leave a meeting shaken, unable to remember what I’d even said. What had possessed me to give it all away, as if the moment was holding me up at knife point, demanding that I lay everything on the table? Mostly I patted myself on the back: I was so vulnerable.
Here is what I’ve learned: Oversharing is not vulnerability. It breaks the ice violently. Real vulnerability, done right, is a gift to someone else: here, I gave you this, now you can give me something back, if you want to. Sharing yourself is only the first part of true vulnerability; standing back is the rest of it.
Is a life of balance an attainable goal?
How would I even know I led a balanced life last week?
Alicia Van Couvering is a movie producer whose films include Tiny Furniture, Drinking Buddies, and Junebug.