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Messy hair and Vulnerability

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I'm Stephanie May Wilson!

I'm an author and podcaster and my specialty is helping women navigate big decisions, life transitions — creating lives they love.

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Woman in Black Dress and White Shirt

I hope I’m not alone when I say that dating is not my thing.

I don’t consider myself an awkward person, but there’s something about the first few dates with someone new that makes my skin crawl.

Do you open the door? Does he? Does he pay for dinner? Do you? What do you talk about? What do you do in those awkward silences in the car?

When those silences last for more than a moment, I find myself saying things that I probably shouldn’t—things like “I HATE dating!”

But there is a sweet spot in new relationships that we all wish we could stay in forever.

It’s that perfect time when you’re both still on your best behavior; when dates are no longer awkward but are actually really fun; when you still haven’t had a fight and when the romantic possibilities are endless.

And then things change.

All of a sudden intimacy happens and you’re a little bit too close to hide behind your best foot forward.

You’ve stepped out of the shiny phase—the time when your hair looks perfect and both of you are fully armed with a lifetime supply of ChapStick—and you get to see each other, actually see each other for the very first time.

And that’s really scary.

It’s one thing to be rejected because you didn’t try hard enough or because you wore a stupid outfit on your first date. But if you’re rejected after this point, it’s for things that you can’t control — not for poorly controlling the things that you can. And that hurts much worse. That sting goes much deeper.

However, like most things that are hard and semi-terrifying, there’s also something absolutely wonderful that can happen in this moment.

That person can look back at you, inches away, without the buffer of ChapStick or perfect hair. They can really see you, and really begin to love you. Not for who you pretend to be, not for your best foot forward, but for who you really are. Messy hair and all.

There’s a fantastic woman named Brene Brown, who is an author and a researcher primarily focused on the subject of vulnerability. After years of research and thousands of interviews, she found that true connection with others is one of our soul’s greatest needs.

She also found that the only way to really have this kind of soul warming connection is to allow yourself to be really seen and really known.

The only way to get to this place is through vulnerability, and I wish that wasn’t true. Vulnerability is that moment when you’re left wide open to the possibility of the sting, hands limp, defenses down. And that is a scary place to be.

We live in a world that puts such a high price on perfection—a world where we are constantly buffing out and disciplining away our flaws, hiding them beneath pants that are made to flatter and kind lighting.

But there’s no courage in that quest—no authenticity and certainly no positive end result.

We cannot be fully loved if we are not fully known, which leaves us with a decision to make.

We can either hide and protect ourselves, ensuring that although we wont be loved, we definitely wont be hurt; or we can go with something a bit more daring.

We can choose another way to live — a way to live and breathe and love that’s wild and audacious. We can choose to stay in that moment when someone we love’s eyes are piercing straight through our carefully crafted façade, deciding not to wiggle away in favor of allowing them to really see into our depths.

We can choose to gather up the courage to tell the whole truth of who we are with our whole heart.

We can choose to have to have the courage to be imperfect—to be authentic—letting go of who we think we should be and allowing people to really see who we are in the places we prefer to keep hidden.

It’s only then that we can really be known, and only then that we can be loved in the way that our soul so deeply desires.

Vulnerability is choosing the daring hope that someone will see us and know us and choose to love us because of what they see—not for the show or for our perfectly styled hair.

There’s just nothing more courageous or deeply beautiful than that.

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  1. Just came over here from this article at Darling — beautifully written and true thoughts. Then I clicked on your site and saw your header image: Homemade Life and Grace for the Good Girl in your stack of books!? I feel like we are already friends.

  2. Carol Pittel says:

    Stephanie – This is very well said. Maybe some day you can compile all your dating related articles into a booklet for teenagers/young adults who are starting to date to provide them with some insight and encouragement. I would buy it for my kids!


    • Stephanie says:

      Carol what an incredible compliment!! Thank you so much! I actually have been considering putting something like that together! I’ll keep you updated! 🙂

  3. Tara says:

    Is it okay to admit that I shy away from even the thought of dating because I can’t seem to get past the thought of the awkwardness of those first few dates?

    Great post, Stephanie! Love your authenticity!

    • Stephanie says:

      Tara, absolutely! But maybe at some point that awkwardness is worth pushing through- I think that we have the potential to be amazed when we stick it out through those first initial interactions. When things are good, the awkwardness wont last forever. 🙂

  4. Christy Z. says:

    I love this Steph. Proud of you woman.

    The truth of vulnerability rings deep. Thank you!

  5. Nancy says:

    So true! I agree with Carol that you should write a book someday. The vulnerability you express to your readers is part of what makes you such a good writer.

  6. Britney says:

    I feel like this is totally what Esther did… in the movie “One Night With the King” the scene where she actually enters the court of the palace, drenched in rainwater, a spectacle for sure. But she knew, ‘if I perish, I perish.’ At that point, the most vulnerability, courage, and beauty possible, joined. It was breathtaking, because no one would dare do what she was doing:) There’s nothing harder than laying bare our true selves, to be truly known and truly loved; it feels like facing death, but when God calls us to it, He will always protect us and remind us that we are Truly known, Truly treasured, and Truly loved by Him. We need not fear the grave, for in embracing God’s love for us above all, even death, we embrace life and find TRUE FREEDOM. He rose and CONQUERED the grave, therefore death has No hold on us, cannot separate us from God. Do not fear those who can kill the body, but have no power over life after death. Rather stand in awestruck wonder at the ONE who has power over both the mortal life and the eternal life. Praise God that He is GOOD and our future is Bright in Him. Death cannot and will not EVER separate us from Him. Why fear man, who’s here today and gone tomorrow? Seek God, walk in assurance of His love, His adoption, His life, for nothing else is Sure or Steadfast. He is for us:) I love lipstick:):)

  7. […] the beginning of our relationship, I wrote an article about vulnerability. It was an article based on a whisper, a hardly formed idea of vulnerability breeding intimacy. It […]

  8. […] Vulnerability breeds intimacy—with God and with each other. […]

  9. Hahlay says:

    I’ve gone on a few dates with a guy over the past couple of weeks and I have begun to feel this. When my hair isn’t perfect and perhaps my make up gets smudged and isn’t in the shape it was when I left to go see him. This has made me feel scared that he’s not going to find me attractive anymore. When I can’t look exactly how I want him to see me always when I’m around him it makes me feel vulnerable. Last night in particular was a time when I was really struggling with this.
    I had your blog open on my laptop and scrolled to the bottom and saw this blog post. This really spoke to me and came at a time when I really needed to read it.
    Thank you for helping me accept that not only should I let him accept me for who I am but also for helping me to accept who I am.

  10. […] When Carl and I first started dating, I wrote an article about vulnerability. […]

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