Showing vulnerability bonds people

By Anita Tedaldi: FNM columnist

I did something that’s fairly out of character for me while I was at a conference last week.

This is the last time I write about this conference, next week I’m moving on to why a girl needs to learn about her car anti lock breaking system so that the mechanic can’t rip her off.

For this week indulge me with the conference drama one last time.

Among the many activities I took part in, I spoke on a panel which focused on what it means to live with purpose in women’s lives, both personally and professionally.

This isn’t an easy question to answer, but the conversation was engaging and easygoing at the same time. Picture five women sitting around a couch, like on ‘The View’, only with a live audience and without Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg or Elizabeth HasselBack. The speakers had microphones and we started out by introducing ourselves and talking about our work.

Four amazing women went before me. They were poised, effective and clear in their thinking and in what they wanted the participants to learn. They had all worked in Corporate America, became entrepreneurs and done lots of interesting things.

When it was my turn, I was proud to say that I’m a military wife and felt ready to fire up my intro into the mic and my well organized thoughts without hesitation.

I started out strong, introducing myself in a confident tone and talking about my life of military mama and my work in social media.

I was cruising along holding the audience attention just fine, when all of a sudden in a very uncharacteristic moment for me, I said, “if something happened to my husband on one of his deployments, then I knew I had lived with purpose if …,” but I couldn’t finish my sentence because I was suddenly overcome by emotions.

I had a giant knot in my throat and to make things worse my eyes filled with tears. It’s not that I think that crying is bad, but this all happened in front of a large audience, a group of professional women who were attending the conference to learn about social media and writing.

I tried to pull myself together as fast as I could, apologizing and even making a lame joke that it must have been my illness from the day before.

But as I gazed at these strangers I realized that they were not laughing at my flat joke, instead they were looking at me with kindness.

They handed me some tissues and squeezed my hand. They were sitting much closer to me, and one of the panelists also teared up, and said that the moment I showed my vulnerability was special and gave this talk a deeper meaning and purpose.

I think that it was true, we seemed closer, literally and figuratively and the rest of the panel went by quickly. It was uncharacteristic for me to show my vulnerable side in public, but I have to admit that it created a strong bond between me and these women. I guess sometimes it really is OK to not have it all together.

Well, I have to ask. How do you find purpose in your life?

Anita Tedaldi is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot. Contact her at: anita@anitaovolina.com