I sit with my friend on a wooden bench. I barely know what I am saying as I begin to share. I allow myself to go into details, to let go of some constraint. This question randomly floats in my head.
Am I too vulnerable or am I not vulnerable enough?
I’ve been thinking about vulnerability in relation to the things that we chose to share in our statuses and our Instagram-worthy moments. We live in the age that is under the weight of hashtags like #MeToo, where our vulnerable pain is on display. Our society is one who applauds vulnerability but at this time I cannot help but wonder if this public display of vulnerable is helpful or not.
Mostly, because I are reminded of all of my vulnerabilities and I think to what I have shared and what I haven’t on my little platform, like this little blog I share with one of my best friends. Writing has always been my confessional, my therapy. And I have been given the freedom to be incredibly honest with not only to my friend, but to others who actually read my crap. I question it in my brain,
Am I too vulnerable? Or am I not vulnerable enough?
Another thought floats by me. I want to be brave. The easiest way to be brave in this society is to be vulnerable.
But not everything needs to be said out in the open. You are just as brave as speaking of your struggles to a few people as speaking it out to the public forum. You are just as vulnerable talking to your friend one-to-one on the side, as you are writing on it on a blog or social media post. What I am realising that one kind of vulnerability is (you hope) wiser than the other.
Tiffany Watt Smith in her book The Book of Human Emotions, says
Being able to ‘lean in’ to the discomforts of vulnerability may be emerging as a particular emotional virtue, but it is not a straightforward good…trust is what is at stake…(pp.259-260)
I am writing this as someone who has both trusted too much and not trusted enough. I am human, and therefore I am vulnerable. I’m not suggesting to walk through your struggles alone but maybe we need to think about who we are letting walk besides us?
Tiffany Watt Smith gives a drop of typical British wisdom in The Book of Human Emotions.
To have value, vulnerability does not have to be terrifying transformative, or a constant background hum. it can be knowingly practised, in careful measures too. (p.260)
I’m learning, for myself, a little of reservation of what I share in the public isn’t a bad idea. I’m learning that I need to be vulnerable instead to those who surround me and protect me. I’m learning that vulnerability and openness are good food groups for the soul when it is done with intention. With a carefully picked friend, with a carefully picked group, you don’t have to feel like you need to sell your problems to a stranger to be “open”.
I finish talking to my friend. For a moment or two, I wait for her to say something as she starts and stops. Was I too vulnerable? But she says,
“Thank you for telling me.”
Then I feel relief. That is when I feel the healing process start.
Smith, T.W. (2016) The Book of Human Emotions, The Welcome Collection, Great Britain