I’ve been called a lot of things. Vulnerable has not yet been one of them.
About two years ago, when I was 23, I underwent my first real heartbreak. To help me cope, a friend sent me a link to a TED Talk on vulnerability. According to it, vulnerable people led more fulfilled lives.
This came to my surprise, as I had spent most of my life sharpening my tongue, my wit, and my senses all in an effort to achieve absolute invulnerability. I was convinced that I possessed the key to happiness.
Mostly dismissing the information, I turned to my blog to deal with my pain. I began a draft to vent my frustrations at my inability to maintain the “strength” that I had worked so hard to achieve.
But, the webinar had struck something deep, and I became curious as to if my views on vulnerability might change one day. Instead of posting, I decided it would be interesting if I were to write only half of the draft and complete it one year later to compare my thoughts to my younger self’s.
When I finally reviewed the draft in 2014, the only realisation I came to was how embarrassingly melodramatic I am. I decided to never finish it and continued on my war path.
And that was the end of that. Anti-cliamactic I know.
January 1st, 2015 marks the beginning of what I consider my best self.
In the latter part of 2014, my ruthless determination for invulnerability helped lead to the decimation of my closest friendship in Chicago.
In addition, I was losing my inherent propensity for respect and kindness. My temper was the shortest it had ever been, and I was adopting qualities that I was not proud of. I knew deep down that my quest was unhealthy.
So one day I decided to stop.
Over the last 12 months, I have slowly opened myself up to experiencing and embracing emotions that I have run from for so many years. Doing so has allowed me to see a positivity to life that I have never allowed myself.
For instance, when met with confrontation, choosing a less volatile reaction allows me to better understand the situation and find an effective means to pacify it and possibly even allow both parties to benefit from it.
Yea, It sounds like common sense, now… That lesson took ten years.
It has not been an easy process, though. It’s been 12 months, and I still have to monitor myself to avoid slipping into old habits. There have been some rocks in the road, and I haven’t always acted in the best interest.
However, I’ve come to believe that the purpose to life is continual self-improvement, and I will accept all of my falters and grow from them.
Fast Forward/Rewind? to three weeks ago.
It was 11 p.m. Japan time and I had just broken up with someone. Immediately after, I received an expected call from non other than the same person that shattered me two years ago. We somehow managed to form a very strong friendship over the last two years, and they were calling to apologise for some things they had said to me.
Now, one of the greatest side effects to this new me is my sudden ability to burst into a barrage of tears. Since leaving for Japan, it’s only happened that night; and it was remarkably and unabashedly satisfying.
I know that sounds strange, but what needs to be understand is that the tears weren’t coming from a place of sadness at the night’s events. It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that I was at peace with both. I knew I deserved better than them, and I had immediately begun moving on.
What actually started the tears was explaining to my friend a betrayal that occurred in August by a friend I trusted deeply. And again, I’m not actively holding onto sadness or anger about it. It’s just that reflecting on that moment suddenly brought out of me a lifetime of repressed tears.
In truth, it was kind of funny. My friend even began crying in reaction to my crying. When we hung up, it was about 1 a.m. and I was feeling both grateful and powerful. I wanted to record my feelings and thought it was finally the right time to do the post I had abandoned so long ago.
Unfortunately, I discovered I am a horrible writer at 2 am, and about two days later I took it down after reading it. It didn’t express my message the way I intended. I’m hoping that this one makes up for my blunder.
Sitting here, writing this for the second time, I feel what I have felt almost every day for the last year: pride for challenging myself every single day, perfect contentment, and extreme and utter excitement for my future.
P.S. Several months ago, I was fortunate enough to mend the broken friendship I attributed to in Chicago. And if the moment presented itself to make up with the second friend, I have no question that I could forgive and move on as if nothing had happened in the first place.
It’s just another amazing side effect of beginning to achieve vulnerability.