Woman Wednesday: Julie Larkin

Julie Larkin, Founder of Girl Talk in Washington DC empowering and inspiring women to have open discussions on campus | Your Day by MK | Chicago Wedding Planner | MK Andersen

"What makes me strong? Well, it’s kind of ironic. You know those little Chinese handcuffs we used to play with as kids? The ones where you stick your fingers in, and try as hard as you can to pull them out, but the harder you pull—the tighter the cuffs become? That’s how I see strength and vulnerability. The harder I try to make myself look perfect—to be this unattainable model of womanly strength in my friendships, professional life, the world of Instagram, you name it—the more difficult those relationships become. I become a harder, more guarded, and less authentic version of myself. When I loosen the grip on my desire to be perfect—when I reveal my struggles, my heartache, my failures—I invite others to get to know my real and raw self. And the handcuffs loosen. 

In this strange paradox, it’s through this vulnerability that I become strong. Because let me tell ya, it’s not so easy to open those doors to my heart and share the messy, unfiltered, potentially embarrassing parts of myself…because what if people walk away? What if they see the real side of me and decide it’s not so pretty underneath? Well, that’s the risk I take in being vulnerable. And taking that risk is exactly what makes me stronger! Slowly but surely, I’m becoming more confident in who I am—happy, self-assured, courageous, and passionate—because I’m becoming less afraid to let the world see the real me. It’s not easy, but oh-so-worth-it! 

This is the model we all try to follow at Girl Talk. We consistently encourage each other to be “courageous and vulnerable.” Every Girl Talk Coffeehouse involves the speaker revealing some aspect of her struggles or failures—sounds pretty rough, huh? This is by far the hardest part, forget logistics and Pinterest planning! Revealing our authentic selves is challenging, but the result is phenomenal! Our vulnerability is the key that opens up the door to real connection. Women respond in such a positive and genuine way. We have finally clicked! Not just on the surface, but in a “what, you too?! I thought I was the only one!” kind of way. We are not alone. We are supported; we are valued; we are loved. We are wrapped in a sisterhood of self-worth!

To quote one of my favorite authors on this strength and vulnerability paradox:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” —C.S. Lewis

Cheers to being courageous and vulnerable!