Vulnerability often gets a bad reputation as an attribute that promotes being weak or in more harsh words, pathetic. In other words, being too weak to face life or even being too lazy or scared to face reality. This cannot be further from the truth. The facts are, life, for most people, is not a walk in the park. Life comes with many obstacles and yes, overcoming them does make you stronger and perhaps more resilient, however, it can be tough to overcome these obstacles.
Expressing or showing vulnerability is one way to cope with the overpowering emotions that are a result of the trials of life. Most people would choose to bottle it up and turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to avoid facing these mental battles. This is evidently very unhealthy and bad for both mental and physical health. Vulnerability, the state or condition of being weak, is ironically a feat that only some of the strongest people manage to achieve. Before we analyze why this is, let’s discuss the meaning of strength.
Strength and vulnerability are relative antonyms. They are not exact opposites but they can appear in opposition. Strength refers to the state of being strong, the intensity of power, and force. Strength can be linked to perseverance, resilience, and force. These are all very admirable qualities but it is impossible and impractical to expect this degree of performance from a person all the time. This will only lead to a very intense burnout that, if not carefully addressed, could result in bouts of depression. Vulnerability and strength should go hand in hand. They are two states of being that are extremely beneficial when operating side by side. Strength helps you persevere even when you’re tired and close to giving up while vulnerability helps you let go of tension and stress. Vulnerability reminds you to ask for help and remember to take care of your own needs. Vulnerability helps you cultivate compassion and empathy.
In our society, feelings of vulnerability are often shunned and not spoken about therefore it is the height of strength and rebellion to be openly vulnerable in a society that looks down on it. Vulnerability is not weakness rather it is a part of life. In the same vein, strength is not always positive, sometimes it’s stubbornness and the inability to accept external help or advice. When combined, they complement each other perfectly. Trees go through seasons and stages. The leaves stop growing during fall and the next year they’re back to blooming. The seasons when leaves do not grow do not indicate weakness or death but rather a period of rest and recuperation.
One can argue that vulnerability is, in fact, an act of strength. It is completely normal and human to be vulnerable. We must start encouraging vulnerability alongside strength because one cannot fully blossom without both. Just like the trees, we have seasons of grit, strength, power, and force and we also have seasons of rest and recuperation.