Having recently been signposted to the photos and videos Steven Halliday has put together on the British Stammering Association Twitter page, I came across a fascinating speech by the actress, Emily Blunt at an American Institute for Stuttering Gala Dinner in 2009. (Listen here)
My initial response was one of surprise that this event had completely passed me by. Blunt’s speech is engaging and her openness and honesty about her personal experience of stammering is deeply moving. It is also encouraging to see such a glamorous celebrity coming out about stammering in this way and subverting traditional stereotypes of communication disability.
What has stayed with me, however, was Blunt’s willingness to be so transparently vulnerable in such a public forum. Her capacity to speak from this place of authenticity was like a tuning fork that touched in and resonated with something deeply human. Beyond words. An act of true courage.
Perhaps it also resonated because the struggle to be with vulnerability is a recurrent theme in my client work just now. It is intriguing how often we are untrusting of our feelings of vulnerability, how we automatically strive to keep them under wraps; by either trying to tidy the mess into a more acceptable form or to hide it shamefully from view. How very tragic then to learn how costly this natural tendency towards control and concealment actually is.
In her inspiring TEDX talk, entitled “The power of vulnerability” (listen here), Brene Brown claims that embracing vulnerability is not only key to true connection with both ourselves and others, but is a necessity. As uncomfortable and unsettling as it might be, she describes the essential human experience of vulnerability as being the birthplace of joy, gratitude, personal growth and authenticity.
This led me to reflect on the many paradoxes involved in being human, on just how much each of us needs to let go of in order to truly be ourselves… in all of our beautiful inconsistency and imperfection.