It was only when I was 10,000 miles from my plush, sheltered home, sitting in the security office of a London market, reporting that my iPhone had been swiped from my coat pocket, that I finally understood it. A website had rejected yet another article I’d written and I was rapidly running out of money. I’d just declared my feelings for someone who didn’t reciprocate — I was alone and very vulnerable.
As I sat in that security office and looked into the dreary mist, I felt bad for myself. This wasn’t how things were supposed to unfold; I was indulging in an opportunity that many people never have — I should have been ecstatic. Instead, I felt empty and cold. London should have been an escape and an opportunity for growth and happiness; my expectations could not have fallen shorter.
Feelings of negativity completely occupied my mind. I thought about how many more failures must transpire before I would feel in any way enlightened; how many more times I must give my feelings and love to another before someone requites it.
But this is the world in which we live, the one in which we pretend everything is always okay. We broadcast idealized images of ourselves, but compare our true selves with the idealized images of other people. We’re taught it’s uncool to admit our failures and our passions, and instead, we act invincible, as if nothing can ever hurt us.
Being honest about everything you feel is tough, and sometimes, it hurts like hell. Still, it is more to painful to hide your pain within -- to watch the person you love, or the place you want to be, linger in the distance, trapped by your fear about the possibilities of heartbreak and pain.
That day, it really hit me that life will take whatever it can from you if you let it. It’ll steal your dreams, it’ll crush your ideas of romance and it’ll change your priorities. But, if you numb all of your anxieties with a façade of coolness and pretend to feel nothing, you’ll miss out on what makes us human: vulnerability.
What Vulnerability Isn’t:
A week before my trip, I got a travel card from the bank. The bank teller asked me whether or not I feared missing my life the way it is. He admitted that he wouldn’t be able to do what I was setting out to do — to leave his life and travel away from his friends, family and everything he knew to be true.
Relying solely on yourself is difficult, but I pitied this man who didn’t believe he had the strength to be adventurously independent. Too often, people allow their jobs to define their identities. The problem with this is that you miss out on challenging yourself and put more energy into fitting in with some social stigma or group. Vulnerability is not about being prideful about a social status, and it can’t be derived from your position at work or your relationships. It comes from you, and you alone.
What Vulnerability Is:
Vulnerability means saying and doing exactly what you feel, even if you potentially leave yourself with nothing — it takes guts. It’s about doing things with your heart and with honesty. Too many people are afraid of real feelings and it makes me sad. These people don’t give others the deserved respect for fear of coming across as “uncool.” Many people don’t chase love or passion anymore, probably out of fear of looking like a fool or failing or getting rejected. I know people who literally cry themselves to sleep at night because they’re living a lie in some form or another.
Be vulnerable. Tell someone the truth. Say how you feel. If you want to be a performer, admit it, then chase your dream. Don’t only give partial efforts to the things in life that matter to you.
Only after you try every possible avenue to complete a task at hand and you’re lying on the floor in tears because your every effort was met with a “no,” will you actually understand. It’s not about being cool and it’s not about nonchalance. It’s not about Facebook likes and making everything seem okay. It’s about telling the truth — your truth — from the bottom of your heart because you want to do it. It’s all about being vulnerable.