Vulnerability is something many of us grapple with. We have locked up our mouths and hearts to share our weaknesses and issues. Many of us play numb because we don’t want to be vulnerable, but it’s not our faults; generally, we have no one to trust. Vulnerability exposes our weakness, struggles, and also opens doors for empathy, love and etc.
The negative side about vulnerability is that it exposes us to possible attack either emotionally or physically. Opening up about your weakness, not only exposes you but it also gives the listener an advantage point against you, depending on the attitude of that listener.
The positive side about vulnerability is that it gives people a privilege to know you and dwell in your world. Vulnerability is the act of opening your heart to let people into your world. Being vulnerable is letting people touch the human beneath the armour. Our most real friends are the ones who have seen who we genuinely are beneath our Superman/Wonder woman armours.
Imagine your life is a home. When you invite a new friend to your home, you will bring them into the lounge room first, when we learn a few facts about them, we’d then bring them into the Kitchen. When we discover that they are lunatic as we are, we’d then give them the privilege to come and see our dirty laundry. When we become comfortable with them and learn that they aren’t a threat, we’d then bring them into our bedroom. And finally, when we decide to trust them, we then give them access to the basement. The basement is crucial, the basement is the archive where our history is stored, the basement is a depot where we store all of our issues, weaknesses, and struggles. The beauty behind all of this is, authentic love is when someone loves and accepts you despite the skeleton in your closets and the chaos in your basement.
The truth of the matter is, all of us are desperately searching for that real person who can accept our true-self, someone who wouldn’t judge us despite knowing the truth, someone who accepts our mess and struggles. Someone who can listen to our story and understand us. We are seeking someone to acknowledge our struggles; someone we can be vulnerable to. The question is, who is that person?
The English language is abundant in the way it differentiates between ‘Listening’ and ‘Understanding,’ these two verbs sound categorically related, but they aren’t. We often assume ‘Listening,’ and ‘Understanding’ are the same thing, but sadly they aren’t. Those two verbs are rarely packaged together, meaning it is rare to find someone who embodies both abilities to listen and understand. There are two types of people we can choose to be vulnerable to.
- Someone who listens.
- Someone who understands.
Listening is the act of giving attention to a sound or being concentrated to hear something, could be a story. Someone who listens will give any attention to your story and allow you to be vulnerable. They will follow on with your story, they will be attracted to what you have to say. They will let you express your need and your struggles. They will take notice of what you are saying and act upon what you are saying, which could mean sympathising with you. Someone who listens is someone who hears your struggles and feels sorry for you.
Whereas, Understanding goes beyond listening, understanding breaks through the gates of logic and sympathy. Understanding does not scratch the surface. Understanding bypasses judgment. Understanding allows someone to empathise with you, which is feeling sorry with you. A person who understands will have a compassionate attitude toward you and your issues. They would sensitively feel how you feel. With great intellect, they will discern your struggles and thoughtfully support you. Someone who understands will descend to meet you where you are, they will sink deep to sit with you in your darkest space. They will empathise with you, sit alongside you, mourn with you and feel sorry with you.
The notion of ‘Best Friend’ is far from someone who understands or listens to you. Let’s just agree that the significance of ‘Best Friend’ depends on your own personal opinion of ‘Best Friend.’ People who can understand or listen by allowing you to be vulnerable are such gifts in your life; they don’t necessarily need to be your best friends, even strangers can understand or listen to you.
The only two types of people we ought to be vulnerable to are those who listen and understand. Not everyone possesses the ability to listen and understand, you would be surprised even the people closest to you. Life requires that you be vulnerable (open up). Vulnerability welcomes help, support, empathy, love, and growth from the right people around you.