I’ve been thinking about vulnerability lately. It’s a state of being I find myself toying with in different facets of my life.
A colleague advised allowing vulnerability in and letting oneself be open and exposed as a means to see what creative gems reveal themselves.
Meanwhile, a close friend relives the anguish of coming to terms with her true vulnerability after she was sexually assaulted on a packed subway train and none of her friends, nor her boyfriend, saved her. We’ve been talking about it – a lot.
I ponder the daily blockade I build against vulnerability as work, marital strife, raising children, health and financial troubles, and worries about the future pummel me on a daily basis. Boring, quotidian fortitude. Keeps me going.
But then I recall how the most vulnerable times of my life – when I literally opened my body and gave birth to my children – were the richest, most beautiful moments in time. It takes great vulnerability for a fast-talking, pre-emptive thinking, vigilant being to let a baby come.
Perhaps strength and vulnerability are two sides of the same coin.
I consider vulnerability to be more like being unmasked than being naked, but deep down, I suppose genuine vulnerability wears no clothes. I associate it with authenticity.
I wonder how genuine I really am in ordinary life. Especially when I am cautiously guarded, like when I wear my professional face at work or play mom at the grocery store or during preschool pickup.
Flying through the house overwhelmed at the end of the day trying to sort out the noise yet squeeze in one more productive thing doesn’t feel so authentic either. It feels anesthetized. And necessary.
Could incessant high-performance mode really be being real? Isn’t managing too much actually setting oneself up to be ultimately at risk of something going wrong? Being too careful is bound to allow weakness, and weakness is scary: the ultimate vulnerability. But when my share of responsibility is too big how can I not fake it through the day?
I force myself to yoga once a week because I know it is the only time I can get to that needful place where almost everything stops, and I just am. Yoga takes an utter lack of self-consciousness. It is vulnerability as freedom.
I wonder if those moments of being present – of being free and vulnerable, strong and authentic, connected and outward looking yet self-expressed, all at the same time – are my true self.
Whatever that means… True self?
No matter. Those moments are too scarce.