There’s a secret box I carry around with me. No one can see it, hear it or feel it but I know it exists. For me, the word vulnerable had always left a bad taste in my mouth. How could people wear their ‘heart on their sleeves’ or go through mountains of tissues watching some tear jerker movie? I didn’t get it. I wasn’t cold inside. Infact I’m an incredibly emotional person. Maybe this box had always been my safety net and the reason why I found it hard to part with it. It’d become so habitual for me to take those emotions, pull it from every fibre in my being, place it in the box, and store it away.
My question is why are some people less or more vulnerable than others? Why are some walls so high that some people struggle to bring them down? Maybe for many of us the sharp pain between the shoulder blades had left a scar so deep, that being stabbed in the back had created trust issues over the years. Maybe that’s why villains got such a bad rep. Did anyone take the time to ask why they were the way they were? Being vulnerable is stigmatising. There’s a sense of judgement we’re all afraid of when we let our guards down. To be mocked, critiqued and judged is something we all despise. To pick that person/s to show your layers to, is nerve wracking as hell but freeing if it’s the right person.
Society has this way of portraying people in a certain light. Many of us turn a blind eye to the homeless if they ask for money, because it’s easier to disregard getting emotionally involved or feel some form of empathy towards them. We’re less likely to be compassionate in public, then we are behind closed doors. Why? Are we embarrassed? Maybe it’s too exposing or raw for people to see this vulnerability. Perhaps there’s a reason why many of us wear a mask when people probe too hard. It’s scary. No one wants to see bits of their heart shattered across the floor, or get too overwhelmed or bogged down with human emotions. It’s emotionally taxing and debilitating. It’s easier to put someone at arms length then To deal with their intricacies. I’ve always found it easier to disregard my own emotions and focus on someone else’s. But the thing is we all crave the same thing: connection. It’s the foundation we all live by, the basis on why we choose things, who we choose and for what reasons.
Why is it we open up to certain people and not to others? Is there a chink, a strain, a distrust towards specific people we feel the need not to go anywhere near? Throughout the years I had always found myself drawn towards people who were more misunderstood, unusual, unmistakenly different but were referred to as cold or hard. I just knew them as people who had formed a thick shell around their body like a shield to protect them from getting hurt. While many thought they were just emotionless, I found once getting to know them and forming empathy towards them that they were the warmest, kindest people I’d ever met.
By listening to people’s stories, their heartaches, failures and achievements, we seek to understand more about humans. To reach out in terms of need makes you strong, not weak and I think for many of us we’re afraid to ask for help because it portrays some form of weakness. It doesn’t. To put on this superhero cape and pretend we can do it all, is an idealistic way of living. Trust your instincts, learn to be empathetic and know that being vulnerable has a power behind it. Learn to listen more, because when we listen we hear, we learn, we understand.