It’s one thing to write about vulnerability or speak about it. It’s completely different to live it. Everyone at Misfit Conf 2013 lived it.
Sure the Misfit speakers shared practical advice. But more powerfully they shared their vulnerability in stories from their lives.
Stories about walking away from success to live a meaningful life, about a father’s weaving his community together over the years, about unexpectedly finding family, about escaping poverty and violence, about brushes with death.
There were other stories too. Outside of the conference I talked with people, at first asking the “what do you do” question but often diving deeper into conversations about creativity and living with intention and meaning.
Yet I found myself intellectually engaging but hesitant to reveal too much, to let my guard down.
It’s one thing to have deep intellectual conversations. It’s way different when you let your heart enter the conversation and bust down barricades and allow the unfettered you be present with another. That’s vulnerability.
But there was one conversation with one woman that shifted the rest of the conference for me. As we talked, I let those little social facades we erect at conferences drop away and I talked from my heart. In a few vulnerable moments, I talked about the past few years with too many endings, too much loss, too much grief. I told her that one of the gifts of being at Misfit Conf was realizing how much healing I had yet to do, that I still felt broken.
She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I don’t know you but one of my spiritual principles is that each of us is whole and complete.” She looked softly at me, “You are whole and complete as you are.” I teared up and something inside of me softened.
The gift of being vulnerable and of allowing another to be vulnerable with you is deeply healing. In that vulnerability is the core message that every single one of us is a unique, whole and complete human being. We don’t have to try to be anything else.
Maybe that’s at the root of Misfit. The idea that you don’t have to fit yourself to anyone else’s idea of who you should be. It’s not about conforming to society’s or anyone’s expectations or about being the next best tech wonder or marketing genius.
We’re all Misfits because we are individually whole and complete. I can’t remember where I’ve heard this saying, but it fits, “I am unique like everyone else.”
It takes courage to crack the shell of conformity; it takes vulnerability to live life fully as a bone fide misfit. And when you live it, you are free.