We live in a world that sets funny standards. Being vulnerable is perceived and almost always (mis)interpreted as a sign of weakness.
Tell me. The last time hot, piercing tears danced down your cheeks, was there someone to hold you and let you empty those rivers of pain? Or did some unsympathetic onlookers tells you “don’t cry,” “be a man,” “be strong?”
Do you know why mental health problems are on the rise today? Many people have banned vulnerability and are continually “selling” the idea that you have to act like a boss, a hero, a superhuman.
Society, family, schools, even faiths and belief systems now set an extremely high and unrealistic standard for the growing young person. Little wonder, recent suicide cases have been about students failing a course, young adults experiencing heartbreaks, parents’ divorce, and career failure.
Disappointments are fast creeping into people’s lives as a crime instead of a momentary setback. Many people around the world are losing their ability to manage pain and come back stronger.
But can we blame them? Can we fault them for fighting their vulnerable states?
My Vulnerability Story
In the past five months, I’ve felt an extreme mixture of emotions – fear, doubt, excitement, disappointment, distrust, disbelief, and hope. Ideally, I’d rather admit that this confusing mixture is normal and everything has been great.
But in truth, I’ve looked at my career and life as a whole and wondered if this is all I’m allowed to be. I’ve asked myself a million questions about my history to try to find a path for my future.
Despite how confident I’ve always been about being a writer and never experiencing writer’s block, I recently lost “my ink.” Someone called it mental lethargy.
This “thinking laziness” gradually crept up on me like a thief in the night and showed me that I wasn’t invincible, invulnerable.
As a writer, I’ve always felt safe in my abilities since I know my muse. Reading a good book, listening to classics, or seeing a good movie can get me inspired any day.
But in these past months, things have been different. Initially, I struggled with this failure to string words together easily. I forced myself to force the words to sit beside themselves. In fact, I instructed myself on the need to write without waiting for the right mood.
And then, it struck me! I was fighting nature. I was wrestling with a stage of my life that just needs to happen. It’s all a part of my story, and I’ve stubbornly been refusing to be vulnerable, to accept the momentary low, and make the most of it.
How many of us deal with this?
What’s Wrong with Being Vulnerable?
Being vulnerable means being willing to admit that you’re human and not a deity. It means accepting the reality that you will sometimes be weak, you will sometimes need help, you will sometimes fall to the ground and spend some seconds there.
Vulnerability isn’t a disease. It isn’t a crime. Needing someone to talk to isn’t taboo.
I’m not asking you to always let your guards down and allow folks pierce you. But I’m saying you don’t have to act all okay.
Interestingly too, most people always respond to the question, “how are you?” with “I’m fine.” In reality, they aren’t. They just really want someone to take their hands and assure them that all will be alright again. They need the solace that comes with being listened to and being heard.
Let’s face it. The world is gradually coming to a stage where people are stigmatized for being vulnerable, for showing that they don’t know all, for admitting that they have weaknesses.
What’s the fake life for anyway?
Why are some parents and guardians hurting their children for failing? Why do they create a sickening competition amongst siblings which leaves the children feeling depressed and determined to outdo the others?
Why is the society attacking people for being honest about their flaws? If a person needs to watch a YouTube video to learn how to do something, why should he be called an idiot?
Why are some governments paying little to no attention to the things that really matter at the expense of self-aggrandizement and a sophisticated lifestyle?
Why are some faiths and beliefs gradually forgetting Christ’s method of mingling, feeding/healing, teaching, and inviting?
Why do we hurt people for being vulnerable?
Being Vulnerable is More than OK
Have you noticed that it takes more effort to be “fake” than to be sincere, original, and truthful? When we act like we’re strong and “all mighty,” a moment of failure or pain (if/when it does happen) may be difficult to recover from.
If a child knows that it’s okay to fall down when she’s learning to walk, she’d look forward to standing up.
If a student knows that it’s okay to fail and getting an F isn’t the end of his CGPA or his fulfillment as an individual, he’d consider the possibility of aiming for A’s in future courses.
If a man knows that it’s okay to be rejected and losing his fiancée isn’t the end of his marriage dreams, he’d keep his eyes, heart, and arms open to another beautiful and brainy woman.
If a wife knows that it’s okay to not have a child as she had hoped and being infertile isn’t the end of her life, she’d focus on loving herself, her man, and the millions of children in the world.
If any abused person knows that it’s okay to detest their abuser but that abuser cannot hurt them forever, they’d take charge of their life and use their pain to heal others.
If a depressed person knows that it’s okay to feel dejected and sad for a while and that life won’t always be so bad, they’d let the suicidal thoughts slide and sternly fight the urge to take their own life.
I could go on and on, but here’s the deal:
People need to know that it’s okay for them to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is more than OK!
If you ever feel weak, don’t fight it or hate yourself.
If you ever need help, don’t resist the urge to ask for it.
If you wished someone could listen to you pour your heart out, don’t hesitate to seek out someone you trust and can talk to.
Whether you’re a child, adult in your prime, or senior, remember that vulnerability is a part of life.
Ecclesiastes 3 talks about the seasons of life – to born, to die, to plant, to harvest, to kill, to heal, to break down, to build up, to weep, to laugh, to mourn, to dance, to get, to lose, to keep, to cast away, to listen, to speak, to rend, to sew, to love, to hate, to have war, to have peace, and so on.
Allow me to say this: there’s a time to be strong and a time to be vulnerable. Don’t hate yourself for being vulnerable.
Don’t be disappointed in your temporary inabilities. Understand and accept your humanity. And remember that only time will heal all things. You will be strong again, trust me.
I could be angry with myself for not posting new blog posts as frequently as I would have loved. I could be angry with myself for not achieving some of my goals as I have planned. I could be sad about the fact that many things aren’t working according to my timetable.
Instead, I have chosen to accept this moment of vulnerability and enjoy it while it lasts. Also, I have chosen to be grateful for whatever life presents. I assure you, being vulnerable is more than OK! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.