It’s the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I want you to see in me.
~ Brene Brown
So the conversation goes something like this:
Person 1: What is your biggest fear?
Person 2: My first biggest fear is death.
Person 1: Come on, that’s shouldn’t be a fear, it’s ineludible. Anyway, what’s your second?
Person 2: My second, you ask? Talking about my feelings.
In short they would do anything else except DIE if it means they don’t have to be emotionally vulnerable. Now this conversation is hypothetical, no one has this conversation out loud actually, because that too is emotionally exposing on a lot of levels.
As of September 2017 Instagram hit over 800 million monthly active users. More than EIGHT HUNDRED MILLION people now express thoughts and feelings through snapshots filtered to perfection, but we don’t accept our true feelings for the ugly, complicated messes that they really are and because we cannot put a filter on them.
Caring isn’t cool or so we’re made to think, we have to “keep it casual.” You might go home with a person you thought you had a great connection with … only never to hear from them again. To top it all off, you have no room to complain. To everyone else, your night(s) together was “casual,” and you’re supposed to respect that, otherwise you’ve got “no chills.” We all feel the pressure to be that chill person. Pop culture has taught us that they’re the ones who win every time and everything: the career, the friends, the guy/girl, the dignity. The problem? This chill person doesn’t actually exist.
We live in a world where vulnerability is barely tolerated, seen as the chink in one’s armor. We are ready to lose everything and everyone if it means we can circumvent any sort of emotional exposure. Opening up is THAT petrifying, and I agree, it’s easier said than done. The world has it so ingrained in our psyche that vulnerability equals shame. But we are not blameless, because we are a part of this world, this culture, we helped build it. We judge and critique people who wear their heart on their sleeve, we call them complicated, dramatic and what not. The fear of rejection can be so powerful that some wear numbness like an armor. We hide behind our screens, careers and mind stupefying experiences, not even able to wholly feel, let alone express emotions.
But the hypocrites that we are, we, more often than not feel offended if a someone does not open up to us. We secretly (emphasis on the secrecy here ) want our friends and family to be completely exposed, bare their souls to us; we want them to be the first ones to call us, want them to be the first ones to say “I love you”, we want them to show us how important we are to them and how devastated they would be if we were to not reciprocate these feelings. It is bigotry at its basest.
What we don’t realize is that Vulnerability is constitutive of our finite existing. It’s not an abhorrent weakness. It’s not easy being vulnerable, it takes practice and becomes easier the more you love yourself. It’s being authentic. It lets you connect with people, because they can see that you’re flawed too, just like them and just like everyone else. After all, isn’t that all we crave? Deep and genuine connection with another person?
Truly owning ourselves and our stories can be one of the toughest things you do, but it is also the most rewarding. Believe that we are enough, worthy, flaws and all and we won’t have to hide. Vulnerability will no longer be a liability, but an asset. We don’t have to control everything around us, simply because we can’t. Be open, wholeheartedly experience everything that life has to offer, the good and the bad. Have courage, show up and let yourselves be seen, even through the insecurity. Shameful? Perhaps. But you know what? Once you realize how freeing it is, it’s worth it.
What happens when people open their hearts? They get better