Do you care about anything? Looking back into human history, even the most putrid of individuals cared about something. Caring is an indirect confirmation of vulnerability. It may be highlighted through an achievement, or a particularly difficult loss. Family, work, hobbies, health…we are all vulnerable in some manner. Yes, guys, that means us, too. Pretending that we are about as emotional as a lump of sedimentary rock is restrictive, fictitious, and downright hazardous to our personal wellbeing.
I think the perfect example of vulnerability comes from love. Ending a relationship can really emphasise vulnerability in one, if not both of the people involved. I’ve had my heart broken. As I’m sure you have. It sucked. Obviously. But to not emote and pretend you are indestructible? If anything, that path will only lead to self-destruction.
“Sometimes divulging your vulnerabilities without any kind of filter can make you more human…”
We’re all human. We all get upset. I think we need to embrace that a bit more. I know I do. Breakups, arguments, and death. Emotions of excessive magnitude should never be bottled up or locked away. The same applies to positive emotions. After all, would you refrain from being happy on your birthday?
“…but then again, it can also provide material that can be used against you.”
I can understand that many of us like to bottleneck our emotions because of this latter statement. When I was younger (15 or so), I was very open about my grandfather and his death. He died when I was 8. It left a large psychological crater. I often mentioned the bond I had with him, emphasising that all I wanted to do was to become a man that he could be proud of. Someone in particular, following a heated exchange – clearly with no off switch – ferociously snapped ‘your granddad is so disappointed in you.’ It’s shocking how one off-the-cuff comment bolted shut my internal doors and thoughts for about 2 years. It totally destroyed my ability to emote and trust people properly. So yes, when your vulnerability is used against you, why would you want to embrace it?
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
– Dr Brené Brown
Embracing our vulnerabilities. I wanted to personify this, using myself as the example. I have never really been emotive to friends regarding my work and my studies. Everyone around me knows how much I work. This may show dedication and ambition, but it doesn’t provide insight into emotion. In fact, there have only been a few times during my education that I have been openly emotional about it to someone else. In the major cases, it was of course, my mum.
In 2014, I received my undergraduate degree classification, and I decided to record the entire thing. At the time, I had absolutely no notion as to why. In fact, I have had the video all this time and I have never even considered watching it. Now however, I see its value.
I have decided to make it available to you. I am opening up a core vulnerability of mine: my career drive. The differing responses between my isolated anxiety in comparison to speaking to my mum is staggering, really. The primary reason I dedicated so much time to study was for my own personal gratification and drive to succeed in a scientific career – one of the three things I hold in highest regard for my future. But, to know that I’m loved and supported through everything, it got the better of me. The struggle and sacrifice all came crashing down in the single click of a mouse.
So please, embrace your vulnerabilities. They make us strong.