Vulnerability may seem like a word to dislike, the state of which we seek to avoid. When we are vulnerable we leave ourselves open to the influence, physical or otherwise, of external forces. This involves trust. A fine concept, but how can we trust what we do not know? Well, sometimes we just don’t get a choice. We’re not talking about sampling a career as a nude model, a.k.a the painter’s muse (although never say never), but rather those unfortunate (and seemingly insurmountable) life-altering events. It may be human nature to grit one’s teeth and plow on, but it takes real courage to acknowledge the pain and fear with the unknown – and tackle it. Vulnerability is not knowing what comes next without allowing that fact to engulf your life. Vulnerability is letting people in. It is learning to be comfortable with your own company. It is learning.
Understandably, the prospect of a life-changer can fill us with real, tangible terror. But, actually, these experiences can be used as teaching points, one being to simply keep going. Again, the carry-on-regardless mentality is not only second nature to many, but often a necessary part of survival. What isn’t necessary is ignoring your emotions. It is not an excuse to continue robotically in a desperate bid to just “get on with it.” When things go terribly wrong, another aspect of human nature is to shut out the pain just to keep your head above the fray. However, you should allow yourself the chance to grieve, process the situation, make a plan of action – whether that be a seemingly mundane day-to-day process or perhaps a huge six-month project with a goal to achieve – and seek only one thing at a time: joy, hope, love… It’s not a particularly easy method. It takes reminders, from yourself but more often than not from your loved ones. And that’s more than okay.
In short, it’s about allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Not weak. Vulnerability is not synonymous with weakness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about opening up, but not falling apart. Or falling apart, but springing (or crawling) back up. In your own time.
By Patricia Yaker Ekall
Header photo credit: Pedro Antunes