Does vulnerability equal weakness versus strength? Well, for years I believed vulnerability was synonymous with weakness. Vulnerability is defined as the quality or state of being expose to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. We have been taught that being vulnerable leaves us open to attack, to being taken advantage of, to being helpless or worse, to be perceived powerless. A few years ago the notion of vulnerability equaling a weakness was so entrenched I saw it as a place of pride to say things like “Letting people get close is how you get hurt”; “Crying is a sign of weakness”; and letting people know what you don’t know is a terrible position to be in.”
As I got older, I began to notice that that mindset was directly correlated to me feeling unconnected to others. I used to wear my stoic facade as a badge of honor. I remember telling people how at age 8 I told myself that I would never cry again, because crying made bad things feel worse. It is important to share that at age 8 my grandmother passed away, which meant that I lost my best friend and confidante. I didn’t realize that as an 8 year old I was equating close relationships and love with feelings of sadness and loss, thereby determining that I would avoid the vulnerability that close relationships and love brought. I was way ahead of my time but didn’t know how I was negatively impacting the formation of my belief system. Though I couldn’t articulate it, I didn’t want to deal with the normal feelings of sadness that accompany a loss so I made a childish, harmful decision to close myself off to being open and growing through my interactions with others.
As it says in the Bible, “when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians13:11 KJV. Throughout this journey of self-discovery, personal development, and growth, I’ve learned that a long-held belief doesn’t mean it is a valid one, but that because it is old, it must be challenged and viewed through the new lens gained from experience and life lessons. As we progress on our journey to live a Bold Authentic Meaningful life, we must rethink and reexamine our long-held beliefs to determine their ongoing place in who we are becoming.
I now believe that being vulnerable is a strength because it is the most honest you can be with yourself. It is where you tell yourself tat it is okay to be your authentic self despite the possibility of the world attacking you and telling you that you are not enough. Every day, as we work diligently to become the best versions of ourselves, we must embrace vulnerability. It is only through being vulnerable that we become stronger, more authentic versions of ourselves, which results in us leading a meaningful life.
The final word… to be vulnerable is to be authentic.