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This weekend I attended a Jason Isbell concert in Portland, OR.  Jason’s opening act was Damien Jurado. Damien came out on stage at 8:00 pm quietly, with his head down, sat in his chair, plugged his guitar into his amp and began playing. His voice was soft and his lyrics very personal. After playing his third song, he introduced himself and stated that he was really nervous. Damien mentioned to the audience that this was the largest crowd he ever played in front of at which point the audience cheered and clapped for him. You could see in his posture, admitting that he was nervous had relieved some of the pressure that he was feeling. He sat up straighter and sang a little louder on the next song he played. When he got to his fifth song, he could not seem to get the chords right and had to start over a couple of times before getting the tune right to continue. Through his struggle to find the right chords, the audience sat patiently and later cheered him on, giving him the confidence to continue. He finished the rest of his set without incident and even shared some personal things with the audience.

As I sat in the audience witnessing this act of vulnerability, both in his song lyrics and ability to admit that he was nervous,  I was moved. I, like most people, struggle with being vulnerable. The idea of bearing our souls for the world to see with fear of rejection, judgment, or being hurt, seems so terrifying that many of us keep who we really are locked up inside ourselves where it is nice and safe.  By doing this we don’t realize that we are stopping ourselves from enjoying the possibility of what could be and allowing ourselves to surrender to the moment. Amazing things happen when we allow ourselves to be true to who we are in the moment and embrace what life has to offer. Most times you will be surprised at the outcome. Damien is a perfect example of that. He could have easily just played on, finished his set and walked off the stage, or worse yet, not played at all. Instead Damien strapped on his guitar and played music from his soul, admitted his fear when he felt it,  and the audience could relate to the fear. By admitting his that he was nervous, Damien was able to connect with the audience. He showed that he was real and that he has real emotions, just like everyone else. Vulnerability lead him to connect with the audience in a way that he may not have been able to had he just played on. That connection made the audience see that the man on the stage no differently then they see themselves. With the audience support through clapping and cheering, Damien move passed his fear knowing that the audience was in his corner and wanted nothing more for him than to succeed.  The real fear comes in not knowing the outcome of an act or event and assuming the worst.

Why is it that most of us assume the worst will happen when the outcome is unknown? The likelihood of the outcome turning out positive is just as likely but our brains don’t go there. How many things in life have you missed out on because you were too afraid to try? Too afraid of the outcome? Too afraid to admit what you were really feeling or thinking? Too afraid of judgment or rejection? Too afraid of the unknown? The past can not be changed and therefore you will never know what could have happened had you done what you really wanted or what was true to who you are but change that going forward. Had you allowed yourself to be who you are and surrender to the moment you may have set a different course for yourself. There are no wrong choices in life, just missed opportunities. If you make a choice and the outcome was not what you thought it was going to be, correct the course and try again or ask for help. We only get to go around this journey called life once, why not make the most of it. Try things that scare you, bare your soul to those you love and love you, embrace the feelings that you have and learn to sit comfortably in those feelings. Don’t try to be someone else or feel something different.  Sometimes that hardest person to be vulnerable with is ourselves. Learn to love who you are, the good and the bad, and share the real you with the world. That is the you we all want to see.

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