We can't opt out of the uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks that are woven through our daily experiences. Like it or not, vulnerability is coming, and we have to decide if we’re going to open up to it or push it away.The only choice we really have is how we're going to respond to feeling vulnerable. And contrary to popular belief, our shields don't protect us. They simply keep us from being seen, heard, and known. If there's anything I've learned over the past decade and experienced first-hand over the last year, it's this: Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.Even if letting ourselves be seen and opening ourselves up to judgment or disappointment feels terrifying, the alternatives are worse: Choosing to feel nothing -- numbing. Choosing to perfect, perform, and please our way out of vulnerability. Choosing rage, cruelty, or criticism. Choosing shame and blame. Like most of you reading this, I have some experience with all of these alternatives, and they all lead to same thing: disengagement and disconnection. One of my favourite quotes is from theologian Howard Thurman. He writes, "Don’t ask what the world needs; ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." Vulnerability is not easy, but it’s the surest sign that we’ve come alive.