Allowing myself to be vulnerable has transformed my life. On second thought, I wonder if “allowing” is the proper descriptive term; it’s been more like challenging myself to be vulnerable. Existing vulnerably is existing bravely and openly and exposed, and that is a challenge. What I know to be true is that vulnerability is the birth place of joy and pain. We love the joy part. We love the pleasure part. The pain? Not so much. But we cannot fool ourselves into believing that we are always in control of the outcome of our vunerability. We are not. Things happen, as a result of being vulnerable, sometimes undesirable things, that we are not in control of. What we are in control of is how we respond to the pain and how we choose to navigate trauma. So many of us are not afforded the opportunity to develop these emotional tools until after pain has been felt and harm has been done. “But why is pain derived from vulnerability? Why is joy derived from vulnerability?” In order to answer those questions we must first define vulnerability.
If you look up the definition of vulnerable you’ll find something like “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed”. I think this is only half true. As it pertains to human emotions and experiences, I’d say that the first half of the definition is most fitting – “the quality or state of being exposed”. When you are vulnerable, you are exposed, your truth is on display. Why is difficult to display your truth? Because we live in a judgmental world. It is uncomfortable to feel judged and misunderstood. But that discomfort is the birthplace of growth. To be in a constant state of evolving and growing is to be in a perpetual state of discomfort. Not a toxic and harmful discomfort that challenges your well being, but a discomfort that demands that you think better, and inevitably grow.
Some of my most vulnerable moments have been those times when I’ve shared my unfiltered thoughts about topics that are deemed ‘controversial’. I am a thinker. Thinking is a huge part of what I do for a living. But thinking too much is in and of itself counterculture in a country and a world that has waged war on intellectual curiosity.
When I share my true thoughts I allow people to peer into my soul, no longer shielded by the comfortable mask of uncertainty. When I push myself into this vulnerable state, I am most often met with praise for my transparency and insight. And I am sometimes met with criticism and harsh judgments. But if I were to refuse to allow myself to be open to the possibility of criticism, I also deny myself the possibility of connecting with those who understand and appreciate me. Being vulnerable is not meant to be easy, but it doe not necessarily have to always be difficult. It becomes easier as you begin to make openness and transparency in your everyday life a pattern. It becomes your default. The consequences of vulnerability are an unending beautiful pool of possibility. Dive into that pool. You will not drown with integrity as your life-vest.
By guess writer
Funmilola is a Nigerian-American award winning artist, scholar, organizer and play write. You can find more of her work on her site https://www.funmilola.com/