On Vulnerability and the Strength in Being Weak

When dealing with matters of the self, the easy way out is almost always available to us. It is easy to attenuate our deepest thoughts and fears and convey the end result to the outside world; though we may not be able to fool ourselves about what it is that makes us most essentially human, it is far too easy to fool other people about these flaws, doubts, and fears. We are reluctant to ever admit fallibility to our fellow man, for fear that this fallibility will be viewed as illegitimate, unfounded, and weak. We attempt to convey resilience by refusing to admit weakness. What is amazing about these weaknesses however, is that they are exactly what make us resilient. Some of the most strengthening bonds between humans are formed in the moments that whatever it is that makes us feel most alone, is shared with another person. We find that many times, what we consider to be most isolating is rather what brings us together with others—our darkest fears are those which shed the most light on how to no longer be afraid.

The phenomena of how weakness turns to strength is one that is difficult to quantify, and nearly impossible to explain. Many live their lives traversing moment to moment, their personal battles sheltered by a reluctant, impenetrable exterior. It is often only through chance, and in that right hands, that we become undeniably vulnerable. Though it seems counterintuitive, it is impossible to be vulnerable by ourselves, when we feel safest—in order to put ourselves at risk, it is necessary to invite other people in to prove us wrong. Other people are the reason human weakness can be changed. Or rather, human weakness is the reason that people can be changed by other people.

This vulnerability is frightening in every sense of the word; it encompasses a need and a want to be validated and accepted, yet simultaneously renders us helpless to defend what we have convinced ourselves so desperately needs defense. Far too often, we have persuaded ourselves to believe that we need walls to protect what makes us human, hiding our weaknesses in an attempt to appear anything but fallible. We make our weaknesses inaccessible and assure ourselves that they are untouchable; however, it is by making them untouchable that we deny ourselves any opportunity to confront and overcome them. By locking up our fears, hiding our doubts, and drawing the curtain over our weaknesses, we do nothing but allow to them to collect dust in the corners of our souls that we so desperately try to make impermanent, often buying just enough time for us to forget the combination to these locks, and lose track of our hiding spots. Weakness is not vanquished when this happens; rather, weakness becomes a part of who we are that we are reluctant to ever fix. This reluctance will eventually wear on the soul and the life that it procures.

However, our prospects change entirely when we share humanity with another human. When the dust finally rises in the places we forgot existed, our hiding places exposed, and our secrets no longer kept under lock and key, vulnerability—and the people invited to partake in it—do their job. All humans are flawed; some may even say that all humans are broken. If so, there is reason behind the idea that a whole is composed of parts. It becomes no wonder that people need people—for maybe the broken are drawn to the broken, clinging to the hope that someone will not see them as such, but rather as they are: graciously flawed, tirelessly imperfect, and so beautifully human.

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