By LeeAnn Chisolm
As a creator and even in my everyday life, vulnerability has been something I’ve found myself struggling with lately. I want so desperately to give of myself freely and unabashedly to the world, but putting my guard down to do that can sometimes be overwhelming, if not terrifying. To me, it means opening up my whole self for judgement, for ridicule, for someone else to view me the way I often times have viewed myself—which hasn’t always been the most flattering. Sometimes, I even fear praise. Your added attention just reminds me that I am naked and exposed. Luckily, I am now journeying back to myself. I am learning that vulnerability is not about opening ourselves up to judgement, but to possibility.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the unparalleled opportunity to witness this truth first hand. My love, MaestroRiko a musician and performing artist, set out on a trip across the country to spread Free Hugs in hopes of bringing his musical manifesto to life. It was a bold and genuine opportunity to connect to people. I traveled with him from Atlanta, to Ontario, to Oakland, filming and experiencing it all. We’d head out every morning into the heart of each city where he would stand for hours with a simple, handwritten cardboard sign that read: “Free Hugs.” It was an invitation for others to come outside of themselves—their busy lives, their phones and tablets—and just be present for love. The most beautiful part of watching Riko open his arms and his heart for others, was watching what manifested from it. People were full of so much joy, when they accepted a hug. Even those who were watching, like myself, couldn’t help but be warmed by the beautiful display of God. That is vulnerability. Here is a man, who is not perfect, who’s battled with depression, who’s actively rejecting his own fears daring to be an emblem of love and light.
You don’t have to stand on a street corner to express your truth and your gifts, but you do have to express them. We are pure potential, but in order to experience that, we have to allow ourselves to be opened. Vulnerability is not waiting for affirmation, not waiting for a certificate or validation to be a shepherd of change in someone else’s life. It’s putting ourselves completely out there where we are because that is where opportunity exists. That’s where God exists.
I must note that not everyone wanted a hug. Riko was in fact laughed at and even sneered at quite frequently because some people just didn’t “get it.” Others were afraid themselves of being vulnerable. It was in those moments I realized that vulnerability is an act of courage. It’s being honestly and truthfully yourself. It’s experiencing life the way you were designed to experience it.
This entire endeavor has truly empowered me to show myself, to be true to who I am, and what I am: a creator. And I don’t create for anyone but for me. I create for the voice in my head that yearns to move mountains. I create for that is what brings me into the spirit. Being vulnerable is me allowing my creations to take form and root in someone else’s life. May my own vulnerability liberates you from your fears.That is how we connect to each other. That is how we grow. We must make vulnerability a practice. You must dare to be unapologetically you every single day. Regardless of the result, regardless of how ready you think you are, speak your truth. Be your truth. Live your truth. The world is waiting for you.
LeeAnn Chisolm is a writer and an award-winning filmmaker. Born and raised in Germany, now residing in Atlanta, this self-proclaimed workaholic found her calling early on through the written word and performing arts. From photography to poetry, to dance and film, her art is a conscious effort to inspire, empower and simply be the change she wishes to see in the world. Check out LeeAnn’s latest projects on her website www.MissChisolm.com and follow her on Instagram @MissChisolm.