“I want to paint vulnerability on canvas and show it to children, and I want them to marvel at it and be washed in it because truly, in all my living, being sensitive is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.” ~Christopher Poindexter.
As someone who suffers from the fear of opening up, I am automatically imprisoned by invulnerability. In my opinion, people feel things differently, and for some of us, the simplest emotions cut deeper than a knife. With this in mind, I slowly and involuntarily built an emotional wall where people had to go through layers to get to my core, and many people gave up within no time. The problem is, these barriers really stop me from living my best life. There have been times where I want to sing out loud, dance embarrassingly, or even give a completely unpopular opinion, but the idea of people seeing that side of me clouds my judgment and shrinks my personality.
What I’ve come to learn recently, however, is that vulnerability is beautiful. We are not zombies. We are human, and to be human is to feel, and to allow others to feel what we are feeling with us. That’s what makes being sensitive such a beautiful thing. It connects us in a special way to those around us. Such connections make life valuable and worthwhile.
The very definition of vulnerability is terrifying. A quick Cambridge dictionary search defines it as the ability to be easily physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked. This in itself sounds completely negative, because everyone wants to protect themselves from any possible negative experience. I choose to go with Professor Brene Brown’s idea, that vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. Life in itself needs more vulnerable people because vulnerability is liberation from irrational fear.
You see, shame is the root cause of invulnerability. It’s so sad that so many people are scared of putting themselves out there because they just don’t think they’re good enough. Brene Brown, author of The Gift Of Imperfection says, “The one thing that keeps us away from connection, is the fear that we are not worthy of connection.” Lack of vulnerability has led to feelings of unworthiness. So is vulnerability really what it is put out to be? Isn’t it ironic that the very fear of being vulnerable makes us lose our self-worth? True courage is recognising that you are imperfect. What makes you vulnerable is what makes you beautiful.
In her Ted Talk titled Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable, Luvvie Ajayi describes her sky diving experience. She says, “We’re about to fall out the plane, and I think to myself that I’ve done some stupid things in life, and this is one of them. Then we come falling down to earth, and I literally lose my breath. Again I think to myself that I’ve done something foolish on purpose. What is wrong with me? But then I look down at the beauty, and I know instantly that this is the best thing I could have done. This was an amazing decision. And I think about the times when I’m about to speak my truth. It feels like the moment when I’m at the edge of the plane, telling myself that I shouldn’t do it. But then I do it anyway. I realise comfort is overrated.”
The reality is that, whether we admit it or not, we will always be vulnerable. The key is in accepting these feelings and welcoming them in our minds. To sit comfortably with the knowledge that you are susceptible to emotional danger and still walk into the situation no matter the outcome, that’s true power. Without allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we can’t experience the joy and rapture of life, we can’t be our authentic selves and we can’t be human, because to be human is to be imperfect.
The paradox of vulnerability is that we look for it in others, but hide from it in ourselves. We don’t want it, but we need it. You see, people equate vulnerability with weakness, but as Rihanna puts it, it’s tougher to be vulnerable than to actually be tough. That’s what makes vulnerability so powerful.
“You cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb bad feelings, we consequently numb joy, happiness, and gratitude. Then it becomes a dangerous cycle.”
So, here’s a challenge for anyone out there dealing with invulnerability. Break those emotional walls, they’re not doing you any good. Say I love you first, and send that risky text telling them exactly how you feel. Don’t be scared of expressing your emotions, or speaking your mind. Put yourself out there regardless of the possibility of feeling ashamed, because vulnerability is a superpower.
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