"Vulnerability feels like you are putting your life on the line but in reality, you are saving it."

Lessons from her debut book 'Take What You Need' on finding purpose through vulnerability
Words:
Abiola Babarinde

In November, I released my first book Take What You Need: a collection of life lessons and words of encouragement for people who never settle. It’s a compilation of some of my biggest learning and unlearning moments thus far, and an extension of the writing I have shared online since 2015. The focus of the book was to challenge our thinking in some of the most important, but easily misunderstood areas of our lives. Naturally, relationships + connection was of the core topics featured, because contrary to what many of us (including myself) have been conditioned to believe, you can trust people, you can let others see the “ugly” parts of you, and ultimately vulnerability is power.

"Vulnerability feels like you are putting your life on the line but in reality, you are saving it. Open up."

Do you feel that? Does it make your stomach twist? This has been one of the statements that has triggered multiple “I felt that” moments for readers across the diaspora.

I felt it too when I wrote these lines, because they came from a deep place of knowing. The knowing of a person who, for decades, thrived off her own self-sufficiency and had been rewarded for it. I, like many of us, was raised in a system that focused on the individual’s performance — whether that was the exam system in schools or promotion process in large corporates. The goal was always to demonstrate what only you could do, while occasionally acknowledging the contributions of others. And of course, social media has many times amplified this focus on the individual over the collective.

“Your ‘defense mechanism’ might be starving you of one of the cornerstones of human existence: connection.” — Take What You Need, p.33

Independence is an essential part of human survival. But what happens when it crystallizes into a “lone ranger” complex that makes it difficult to partner with soulmates?

“Soulmates” might sound like a strong word, but it is what it is. And yes — it’s intentionally plural. Our lives, hearts and souls aren’t just tethered to romantic partners, they’re connected to genuine friendships and the communities we create — but only if we let those connections run deep. It takes vulnerability. It takes suspending our ego and our fear of rejection long enough to stretch out our hands and say “I want to do life with you. I want you to know the real me — flaws and all”.  

For someone like me, who grew up shy, introverted and sensitive, stepping into relationships in this deep way felt like a huge risk. And it was at first, but it was also worth it. It may sound cliché but it is true. At first, it felt uncomfortable, at first I worried about revealing to others — and to myself — where I was struggling. But issues always seem bigger and scarier in the dark. When they are shared, we find out that everyone is carrying some sort of load, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make us any less worthy of love, respect or acceptance.

Vulnerability and community aren’t just soft words. They form a three-fold ecosystem where you and your community, your soulmates can find fulfillment.

The pressures of life and doing it alone can put us under severe strain. Soulmates can help us share the emotional load. They are safe places where our deepest fears and insecurities can be shared and disarmed, and it’s in this process of sharing that unbreakable bonds are formed. In moments when my thinking was clouded by insecurity, anxiety and even depression, they shone a bright light of clarity, reminding me of who I really was. They were — and still are — part of the long, complex healing process.

“[Relationships] can get messy because people are messy, including you and me. Somehow, in all of this stickiness, there is a sweetness that we cannot live without. We are designed for interdependence.” — Take What You Need, p.32

Finally, and maybe most importantly, in our vulnerability we find the answers to some of our deepest questions. Many of us are asking: “what is my purpose and how do I find it?”. While it may bloom in our private time, the roots have usually been nurtured by a community of kindred spirits. In an environment where you can fully be yourself, where you’re accepted, encouraged and corrected, your gifts flow freely. In safe spaces where you give to others, you reap.

So, even through vulnerability may feel like you’re putting your life on the line, you may actually be saving it.

Open up.

Abiola is a writer and speaker, mainly focusing on personal development and spiritual growth. In November 2018, she released her debut book: “Take What You Need: Life Lessons for People Who Refuse to Settle for Less”, available internationally on Amazon and Roving Heights Nigeria.

On Saturday 13 April, she will be hosting her next event “Living Well: in Lagos” in Lekki Phase 1. Along with 3 guest speakers, she will explore how people can maximize their potential, manage stress and multiple-side hustles in one of the most hectic cities in the world. More info and tickets here. For more info about Abiola, visit www.abiola.me