My dearest SOTGC community!
It is sometimes a daunting task, my dearest readers, to trot on the unchartered territory that we label as being outside of our comfort zone. To wander away from the more travelled path, to take a chance on a dream, to fall head first into a new relationship, to speak up … to take a leap of faith on anything in life is a courageous act as it places us in intimate proximity with our more vulnerable side.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines vulnerable as: “easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally or emotionally … open to attack, harm, or damage.” According to the online Oxford dictionary, the roots of the word vulnerable stem from the word ‘wound’; “Early 17th century: from late Latin vulnerabilis, from Latin vulnerare ‘to wound’, from vulnus ‘wound’.” It is in this way that the literary world has painted the word “vulnerable” with a negative hue suggestive of faintness, weakness, and fragility. Is this, however, truly always the case?
What if we were to re-define vulnerability? What if we were to embrace vulnerability to mean fully experiencing life … all of its emotions, experiences, highs and lows? What if to be vulnerable really meant to have the courage to open one’s heart and life experience to going outside of one’s comfort zone, where all the magic potentially happens?
We sometimes numb ourselves to certain emotions in life; emotions that are often the most intense and penetrating because these are the ones that place us in a vulnerable state. We may find that we are not letting ourselves fully, and literally, “fall” in love, out of fear of what the future may hold. We may find ourselves feeling unworthy of pure bliss or happiness, thinking that whatever is bringing us such joy may be simply “too good to be true” or short-lived. We may suppress how excited we get about something we are truly passionate about out of fear of becoming too deeply invested. By numbing these intense emotions, however, we are depriving ourselves of a very raw, beautiful, and shall I venture to say, vulnerable, part of being human. To fully experience these emotions and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in feeling them, we are instead allowing ourselves to truly live a moment in its entirety.
The same can be said of being vulnerable in the context of dreams and ambitions. It takes great courage to put one’s self “out there”; to pursue whole-heartedly that which we truly dream of without eclipsing those dreams by fears, “what-ifs,” and doubts fueled by the unknown. To take a leap of faith makes us truly vulnerable, but without that leap of faith we may miss out on the great lengths, and depths and heights that we could otherwise truly amount to!
My dearest readers, might this post serve as a call to action – one that prompts us to begin seeing vulnerability as something that has the potential to fuel our emotional wellness and resilience? May we begin to see vulnerability as a gateway to heightening our experience of life itself, allowing us to live even the most intense of emotions fully.
The chance to embrace vulnerability touches each and every one of us in different ways throughout our lives. To speak to what I know best, my experience in medicine, I find myself faced with the opportunity to embrace vulnerability during each patient encounter. Medicine puts one in intimate proximity with life in both its most resilient and feeble states. To be ill is to be in a vulnerable place – both physically and emotionally. When my patients share with me their life story and the most intimate details of their life, they are being beyond courageously vulnerable, for sharing in this way is truly a leap of faith. To empathize with someone else, as I strive to do with the patients and families that I work with, is to make one’s self vulnerable as well; sometimes we cannot help but relate to someone else’s pain more than we had intended to. After all, to open one’s self to someone else’s struggle and pain can be a scary place to go to. My dearest readers, in which ways do you encounter vulnerability in your day-to-day lives?
With the new year upon us, may we strive to more fully embrace our vulnerable sides—may we learn to envision vulnerability in a positive light; one that sheds a light of strength, resilience, courage and, at the root of it all, a fuller experience of what it means to be open to human emotion.
My dearest SOTGC community, what does vulnerability mean to you? If this post resonated with you, share it with your friends, family and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter! Feel free to take part in this movement as we move forward into a year with the intent to embrace vulnerability in a positive light!