We risk so much by putting ourselves out there.
Experiencing failure or defeat. Admitting our weaknesses and flaws. Showing our more delicate and otherwise private feelings.
We fear rejection, humiliation, exposure, and "otherness."
What do we gain by holding back?
Usually, it's a short-term benefit: a personal sense of victory knowing that we've kept our secrets safe. A sense of strength, in that no one else knows how difficult things have been for us.
But deep down, we know we're putting up a façade. Perhaps, we think, we can outrun this mirage if we turn things around – no one will be the wiser.
Alternatively, what do we gain if we're open and vulnerable?
"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable."
– Madeline L'Engle [Click to tweet this quote]
If we're not sure when things will turn around for us, we could be eaten up by anxiety at the fear of being exposed.
More than that though, we miss out on the opportunity to reveal who we are to others. To allow them to relate to us on a more visceral, human level.
Everyone has had challenges to deal with of some sort. Lost jobs, divorce, death, bankruptcy, failed business, flopped campaigns. By sharing your reality, it's entirely possible that you'll find someone else who experienced something similar and who can offer advice, kind words, or empathy.
It's easy to find friends, clients and customers when things are going well. It's when things take a downturn that you discover who your most loyal supporters are.
So maybe being vulnerable – some might call it being authentic – has its benefits.
The question you need to ask yourself is: "Am I worth it?"
Image credit: The Nightmare by John Henry Fuseli, 1781 (Wikimedia Commons, public domain)