Faces of Vulnerability
Many of my learning moments come from my clients. From groups to therapeutic sessions to speaking at conferences and workshops. One this that remains consistent across the different arenas, the word vulnerability makes people run for the hills. Is it the word? Or the idea of what they will need to do to show a representation of the word? Either way it brings a reaction to those hearing it.
For some the face of vulnerability is anxiety. That face is one who starts to think of all the worst results of consequences of the action. One who is suspicious of the actions of others, while taking a second look at themselves? This face for many is overwhelming and not welcomed in intimate spaces. Many pretend they do not see this face or even have this face themselves.
Another face of vulnerability is shame. Shame presents itself when the reminder to being vulnerable means sharing those actions we aren’t very proud of. The past we want to so desperately forget and hid from. The “old” self we no long want to be acquainted with. This face tends to sit back and observe every other face and want to pass judgement on others to deflect the shame they have for themselves.
Vulnerability comes in the face of confusion for some. This face presents it’s self because pieces are missing. Either from extensive trauma or numbing. In addition numbing is another face of vulnerability. We numb because we hurt due to situations where vulnerability showed it’s face and we were taken advantage of. Hence the face of confusion.
Lastly the face of vulnerability can be seen as a face of acceptance. A face that has traveled through all of the prior faces and maybe a few others. This face has run from being transparent and willing to change. Yet even in the time of confusion, a clear picture can be seen when you have the willingness to make change. Finding the balance between honesty and acceptance of self and others. We cannot change the things we are unable to change in the lives of others however we can change our perspective towards change.
Being vulnerable is also about having the willingness to change. Vulnerability in itself is all about change. Changing the way we think and approach a situation and allowing ourselves the opportunity to let others in as others let us in. The face a vulnerability is a face we wear at some point or another. However as we continue to grow and learn from one another, take not on the faces that encourage us to change. Redefine your understanding towards vulnerability. It can be strong, empowering, supportive, willing, accepting and caring if you allow yourself to become vulnerable. These too are faces of vulnerability and I challenge you to use one of these faces instead!
Going into my junior year now, I wish I could have expressed what I was going through at that time to my parents. This is a letter I believe many freshmen can relate to.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m sorry I don’t call as often as I should. See, it’s not all fun and games over here. I am still trying to find my place; as you know, I only knew one person from high school. I’m also very stressed, as I still have no idea what to declare as my major. It’s funny, you know, how people say it does not matter what you major in undergraduate. Of course it does. At this moment, it feels as if the rest of my life will be determined based off of what that paper says I’m capable of doing. I know it’s not what the degree says but what you do with it that matters. Yet, there is so much pressure. There is so much I want to do. I just don’t know how to choose just one thing. How will I know if it’s the right decision? What if I want to change my mind again? What if they don’t let me?
If you’re out of breath just reading that, imagine how claustrophobic I’m feeling right now. I’m overwhelmed, lost, confused, and lonely. My entire world changed drastically in a matter of a year. I am in a complete new environment; I miss the beach. My best friend since 5th grade is no longer down the street, I had to start all over. I don’t know who to trust. I don’t have my car up here, so I automatically feel dependent and you know I dislike relying on others. That being said, I am also sorry I am not working right now. I know paying for school and housing is already a lot to ask for. I just don’t know how I could balance all of that right now.
I also know that if I call and ask for money, you will get upset and say that is all I call for. So I rather just not call, you know, to avoid problems. I want to hear how your day is going and I mean to call more often but I don’t know what to say on the phone. I don’t want to ruin your day because I’m upset. I know you see photographs of me on social media out with friends and having a good time. That’s only sometimes, because let’s be honest, no one is taking pictures at the library.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I don’t want you to take my absence personally. I am at a very difficult stage in my life. I am trying to figure everything out. Hopefully, I figure it out soon. I love you both and I am so grateful for this opportunity you have given me. I will work on calling more often. I will work on creating a balanced lifestyle up here with time for studying, exercise, friends, phone calls, and possibly a job. I will work and I won’t give up. Time to make you proud.
Your freshman in college
MGS Counseling & Therapy Services, LLC is a South Florida private practice. Mrs. Wilson works with mothers dealing with postpartum and fathers who have difficulty with transitional changes after a new child. In addition Mrs. Wilson works with individuals, couples and families to find their inner strength and resolve interpersonal and relational conflicts. To schedule an appointment with Mrs. Wilson call (754) 999-0410 or contact by email at email@example.com