“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brene Brown
We are inherently taught to hide our weaknesses to convey our strengths to society. This statement is especially true for men as we are taught that ’emotion’ and ‘tears’ diminish the respect or power of a man. From a young age, we are instilled with a notion of getting on with it and soldiering on because vulnerablity is the worst thing to show to others. It should be kept hidden as well as our feelings and emotions, as people will judge and perceive us as weak.
It is human nature for us to doubt and target the weak which makes me contemplate about vulnerability in a professional context. If we are perceived as ‘weaker’ than another candidate, we will not be offered a job over the ‘stronger’ person. Why do we reward someone for hiding their insecurities when someone is brave enough to wear them on their sleeve so openly?
“Vulnerability; the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”
We carry this baggage and stigma of vulnerability as a set of armour to protect ourselves from the perceptions and judgement of others. However, true strength and the power of an individual is to be vulnerable and understand the strength and weaknesses of yourself.
I was fortunate enough to have a seminar where Michael Adams was the subject of a group of students who asked questions about his publication, Salt Blood. He wrote so openly about his experiences with his father, son, life and especially death. The way Michael wrote about our perspective of death intrigued me as it is similar to our perception of vulnerability. We fear it as we are uncertain of the consequences that come from it, portraying us as weaker than the majority.Vulnerability and death both share the connotation of negativity where in reality they could be seen as optimistic and can convey strength in other cultures. It is truly an attribute of all Australian’s to not be confident in themselves and to not make any trouble for others by feeling specific ways.
Vulnerability is the kindling which lights the fire within us. It allows us to become a destructive force of raw emotion to tear down the invisible barriers which stops us from expressing ourselves. It is beautiful as the flames of vulnerability are able to dance and create a story which empowers a writer, a totally beautiful piece which lets us understand their values and ideologies.
The importance of being vulnerable is not only needed to understand ones self, but it is to understand others and how hard it is to come to terms with your feelings as can be seen through Salt Blood.
I have always found writing as an outlet for my emotions so being vulnerable (to an extent) is not very difficult for me. My family taught me from a young age to always share my thoughts and feelings because I would never be judged by them, my support network. Friends are a different story.
I went through an extremely hard time in 2015 where my father had a serious health issue. I was broken and distraught at this time. Between my trials, social life, alcohol, drugs and the looming HSC exams, I became struck with a fear of appearing weak to my peers. One day it was too much for me to go into alone and I asked for help. The reason I waited for such a long time is because being perceived as weak meant losing a degree of strength. Being so vulnerable was scary, but it shouldn’t be.This individual sat with me for what seemed like hours. We didn’t speak, we just sat. Knowing he was there made me feel comfortable, feeling comfortable I let my guard down and splurged my thoughts. He told me that I should have been honest from the start, that my friends were worried about me, that they thought my experiences showed them I strong I was. I really didn’t feel strong at the time, but writing about these stories of my own vulnerability, feels empowering.
This mental barrier that stops us from expressing our feelings is like a clear pane of soundproof glass which stands in front of us. We can see ourselves, we scream, try to make noise, but society prohibits us from feeling safe in expressing our weakness.It is interesting how my ideas relating to vulnerability have changed so much due to these events in my life. I believe vulnerability has a strong correlation to the strength of an individual. It takes bravery to disclose or share information to people which makes you feel uncomfortable.
The stigma attached to vulnerability in society is extremely insensitive and inherently wrong. We should not be devaluing the stories and experiences those chose to share with us when they have an infinite value to the storyteller. Vulnerability is a skill which is difficult to harness. It allows for a deeper form of self-reflexivity and reflection which allows a writer to understand who they are as an individual.
When reading through the BCM311 thread, individuals have shared stories with peers conveying extreme forms of vulnerability through personal narrative. Claire has shared her own thoughts after writing her post “The Antagonist was a Good Man.” She described her experience in writing as frightening, yet, when confronted by other people and their words relating to her writing, she felt ’empowered.’ It is interesting that a word with such a negative connotation can make individuals feel so powerful in their words and values.When vulnerability becomes empowering for the writer we, as readers and listeners, can understand the strength of vulnerability as an attribute of personal narrative. It is important to be vulnerable so we don’t become un-emotive machines and understand the hardships of others. That makes a good story.