Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Value of Vulnerability

Many people view vulnerability as a sign of weakness, but I see it as incredibly human. It is not possible for us to be 'strong' all hours of the day for starters. Doing so may lead to a major crash and burn. I feel we sometimes expect too much of ourselves, myself included. We're always told to 'be strong' or 'toughen up'. But there are times when shit just hits the fan and you need to allow yourself to break; the sooner you break, the sooner you can build yourself up again. Holding it back will only make it fester and grow inside into an ugly monster that will slowly, but surely, consume you.

I find a little vulnerability goes a long way, even in every day life. It makes you more accessible. I actually believe that I have landed jobs by allowing myself to be vulnerable. It comes off more genuine than a false bravado, and I'd like to believe people appreciate that. I know I do. However allow me to highlight the difference between showing vulnerability and being downright needy; I find needy people to be one of the most off-putting because they are constantly looking for someone else to fix them rather than attempting to fix themselves. It's a viscous cycle that is set up to fail because they are so dependent on others to prop them up, and no one can possibly do that constantly for someone else. And down in the dumps they go until they find another poor soul to latch on to for support.

Know and understand your limitations; accept that there are things beyond your control and more importantly, have faith. Things may be bad today but they won't be bad every day. Rather than hiding from the world in your moment of weakness, trust that people will not eat you alive for it, especially those near and dear to you. The longer you hide from the world, the deeper into the pit of despair you go until one day it is too difficult to climb out. Allow yourself to be vulnerable around those you love and love you. Reach out and let them know you need them. More importantly, do not turn them away when they sense something and reach out to you instead. They are reaching out because they care, but they will not reach out forever. If someone in need reaches out, I don't think anything would hurt more than to turn them away in whatever fashion. Which is why perhaps people tend to shy away from the whole thing out of fear that in their time of need, no one will be there for them, and that is a harsh reality to face at a time like that. I have honestly have found solace in the most unlikely places, even from honest, well-intentioned strangers who were at the right place at the right time.

I personally get upset when I try reaching out to someone I know is down with no success. I understand it may be hard, but the way I see it, if you're not ready to come out just say so, but promise you will let me know once you're ready. When I make a genuine effort with someone, this is me being vulnerable to allow you to feel comfortable doing the same. More often than not it works. But when it doesn't, it really hurts. Some say I get over-sensitive about it and I tried to understand why. I am beginning to think that showing someone you care for them is in itself a form of vulnerability. So when you extend a helping hand and you come back with a handful of shit, it's not very nice. But then again, when you successfully get a response, it is incredibly rewarding and humbling. So I put up with the odd handful of shit every once in a while knowing that it will be worth it every other time.

What I find very strange is that I see this mostly with couples. A lot of people refuse to be vulnerable towards their significant other, which I think is preposterous. However, I do understand why, and it is a sad reality. It is not easy giving another person so much power over you. They know you love them, and they supposedly love you too, you two know each other well enough to know what buttons to push, and there is a speck of fear that one of you will push those buttons. So what ends up happening is they guard themselves against each other for fear of getting hurt, which I think is incredibly sad and no way to live. 

It begs the question; if you are constantly in fear that the person you are with may hurt you with what he/she knows will destroy you, are you with the right person? Or is it something that lovers must always endure?

Is the solution to never be vulnerable around each other? Or are we doomed to experience the pain it may cause?

I, for one, have tired of trying to constantly appear strong and in control. A little vulnerability does go a long way, and I have been able to truly connect with some of the most truly interesting and genuine people because of it. It is an immensely gratifying feeling, almost addictive, and I truly feel there is real value in that kind of connection which is very much worth letting your guard down around the right people. With time, you will be able to detect who those people are in a heartbeat.