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Why Vulnerability Isn't a Weakness

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I grew up with fairy tales. Not the Grimm Brothers, but the Disney fairy tale princesses. The delicate, gentle soul who is waiting for her prince to save her. I was lucky to be born into an era where the feminist movement is strong. Little girls don’t need saving. We are not damsels in distress.

What if the princess were to save herself? What if the hero we needed was inside of us all along?

Even so, we’re not taught about vulnerabilities. We’re only shown heroes and heroines showing courage, unparalleled strength and the ability to overcome adversity. We aren’t shown vulnerabilities or the struggles that come along with asking for help.

I was brought up in a household where I was taught weaknesses must be defeated, hidden and buried deep. You can’t be perceived as weak, especially as a woman. What’s that saying? You have to work twice as hard to get half as much? You can’t show weakness because that is when people will come take advantage of your situation.

My family, my entire extended family, is full of alpha males and females. We are not to accept defeat, and we are not to show any weakness. If you need to cry, then do it behind closed doors. If you’re nervous, then find a way to get over it because you need to do it anyways.

I first developed or rather first became aware of my anxiety when I was in my initial year of university. Along with the stresses, the massive life changes and added responsibility, I felt scared and out of control. I found refuge in controlling my eating, in alcohol consumption and in mindless shopping splurges. I was no longer at the top of my class, nor was I the smartest one in the room. There were better, smarter, more well-adjusted people all around me. I felt small and insignificant, and as classes got harder, I felt like a failure.

The worst part was I didn’t have anybody to talk to. My friends were going through their own stresses. My sister was too young. My cousins didn’t understand. A lot of them didn’t even believe in mental health. I didn’t know how to seek help nor did I want to talk about my struggles because I didn’t want to seem weak.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I learned it’s the complete opposite. It takes strength to ask for help. It takes courage to show vulnerability. The ultimate act of courage: being open and vocal about your needs, fully knowing others might tease and ridicule but doing it anyways

I don’t think vulnerabilities are weaknesses. I think it’s the first step to growth. Being vulnerable means being self-aware. It means being aware of where you are, how you feel and being honest with yourself. Asking for help is the ultimate form of strength because it shows maturity, trust and honesty with yourself.

“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” –- Tyrion Lannister

Vulnerability and insecurity are common and normal. This act of courage should not be taken lightly. Whether through friendly conversation or seeking professional help, it must be commended.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 10, 2017
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