Once, while watching the Mary Jane series, I saw a quote that made my breath hitch. I didn’t know why, I couldn’t explain it, but I knew it meant so much because it explained a phenomenon I had struggled to understand over these past years of growing up and becoming. So, I wrote it down; and when I bought that notepad, it was the first sagely piece to kiss the starched lined white sheet of the first page. And that was that.
Today, I listened to Brene Brown talk about “Vulnerability”; and in fact, just yesterday, I read a facebook post from a friend on this same “state of being”. Now, I remember in a recent post too, I talked about how we must commend ourselves for having the courage to be vulnerable. Indeed, it is a powerful thing and a modestly discussed and revered topic. But Brene’s perspective shed a whole new light, and connected the dots of my hitherto fragmented thoughts.
People think of vulnerability in different ways. We might have the same surface or superficial idea of what it means, but the depth and strength of the ideas we hold about it, largely differ… or maybe not. In my most shallow moments of thought, ‘ve considered vulnerability as being “that something so beautiful, which you do not contest, or decide to be or not be- just about the way you pick your lingerie and outfit per day; but that secret leeway in you that opens up without your permission, giving whom it wills the access to love you for something a little beyond the ordinary”– thinking back now, I think I may have grossly undermined it’s significance and brilliance. You can choose to be vulnerable too.
From Brene’s talk, ‘ve now understood that that thing “vulnerability” is such a paradoxical state that stages itself at the centre of every feeling of shame, un-enough-ness, pain, heartbreak (and all the other gazillion angry and demeaning words your heart can think of); and every feeling of joy, colour, pride, enough-ness, and fullness. How? Or not how? Upon hearing this analysis, I then came to understand why Jonathan Safrer’s words “you cannot protect yourself from sadness, without protecting yourself from happiness” meant so much, and connected with my sense of reasoning on so many levels. And still does.
To be happy, we must give ourselves to the chances of getting sad. It is a gamble. Life is a gamble. Brene reminded me of how in life, we choose to numb vulnerability by: pretending to be strong, perfecting things that might only be beautiful when flawed, turning uncertainties into certainties; and how by so doing, we numb chances of completeness and fullness… but this life is what it is. A conundrum of complexities and mysteries, of joys and pains, and gains and losses. Not many things are guaranteed. In fact, very many things are not guaranteed. So it is, that we live by what we get; or if we won’t (as we shouldn’t, not always anyway), allow ourselves be so “us”, so that we attract only what would so appear “perfect”. Because it would be natural. Because it would fit.
It sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? This idea of how being “vulnerable”, just wearing yourself so courageously that you seem so comfortable on your own skin, brings such immense joy and magic in the end. It does. But then, I ask myself– can I truly be vulnerable? Like allow myself get crushed by someone in the name of love? Or trust someone that once hurt me, everytime they apologise and say they’ve changed? And I realise, I have always been vulnerable– albeit unknowingly. From every love that wasn’t meant to be, to every one that almost happened, and everyone that never happened; I have loved with a fullness, in my own way. And while ‘ve felt the brunt from it, ‘ve experienced my own share of joy too.
It is hard. Darn hard. Every form of vulnerability and openness. But maybe if we realised it took even more courage to be vulnerable, than it took to be brave, we would no longer see “vulnerability” as derogatory or as a weakness, but a mark of acceptance and peace- that is, “owning oneself completely”, and thus allowing others a chance to do same.
Hear Brene Brown’s talk here
Read my friend’s Facebook post here
© The Short Black Girl, 2016.