Vulnerability vs. Risk-Taking, and How They're Gendered

Admit it: you're very rarely in your comfort zone.

You are always in motion. Having difficult conversations with a friend. Taking a new job. Leaving for mission service in a dangerous neighborhood. 

When you're talking about human experiences that we choose and walk toward, vulnerability and risk-taking are both often present, and are actually very similar in that they both pose a threat to our survival instincts - whether that's security, money, emotional stability, heartache, etc. The main difference between them is that we as a culture value one and do whatever we can to run from the other. 

Risk-taking is valued. "He's a real risk-taker" is a phrase that's revered. Hang gliding and investing your money and moving to a new city on a whim are seen as brave actions. The risk taker is living his life to the fullest. He'll never be tied down by fear. He is risking everything to experience life. 

Vulnerability, on the other hand, is associated with emotions. Being open about who you are, empathizing with someone, and being honest are shied away from, because these experiences might be emotional - and we don't value emotions. We don't see vulnerability as a gateway to living and experiencing a full life. We see it as a weakness. 

But, it makes more sense if you think about it from a gendered perspective. Risk-taking implies a big, visible, intellectual move on a chess board filled with dominance and power - the masculine. Vulnerability implies being real (and because we're human, that will always include some ugly and messy), often with another person - the feminine. 

If you're reading this, I know that you have a cultural understanding of masculinity vs. femininity and how the former is often preferred over the latter because we view it as strong and capable. 

But are we missing out on life experiences because of an ingrained archaic belief that what comes from a woman is not worth exploring? 

Challenging you to be vulnerable in at least one area of your life this week. Show someone who you really are, regardless of their reaction, and know that you have the capacity within yourself to experience everything that life has to offer.