Finding Strength in Vulnerability

Emotional vulnerability isn’t a sign of weakness. We all are flawed human beings who can only take so much before we inevitably crumble. It is how we pick ourselves up after, that defines our true strength. 

Society as a whole has since projected the idea that showing emotional vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Boys are taught to never show any emotional pain in any form since it isn’t considered masculine enough or girls can be emotional to a fault but within limitations or they’ll be seen as incapable and powerless. Starting from a young age, we as a collective were raised to think that this is how it’s supposed to be. 

Even in this day and age where people are becoming more aware of the validity of one’s mental health, there still are times when this can be subjective to someone else’s point of view. Most of it stems from gender socialization and what is culturally accepted as the norm. However, we as humans are not perfect beings eternally capable of suppressing emotions regardless of our gender. Sure, we can try to keep what we feel hidden by building up walls but for how long and at what expense of ourselves? Is it really worth it to act as if nothing affects us internally and that we are emotionally secure all the time? What happens if we can no longer hold it in anymore? These questions are even more relevant now that the world suddenly changed our lives to something completely different from what we are used to because of COVID-19. In a blink of an eye, we had little to no human interaction outside of where we currently are while forced to do everythingfrom attending school, working, and even celebrating milestoneswithin the confinement of our homes, away from people important to us. Sadly, there are countless more worldwide who lost not only their jobs but also their family and friends whom they’ve known because of a virus that plagued millions. In both scenarios, emotional pain and stress can be felt by anyone, no situation is considered worse than the other. We all are susceptible to sadness even if some may dismiss this reality. How we emotionally and mentally react to any given situation isn’t a one-size-fits-all circumstance for everyone; and our experiences and predicaments shouldn’t be invalidated.

In one of the readings in Chapter Two of the Certified Training Program, C.S. Lewis coined in his literature ‘The Abolition of Man’ that our society has raised to uphold the ideology of “men without chests” which he explains as intellectual and logical reason is far more valued than the irrationalities that can arise from sentimentality. As I quote: “The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can and should obey it.”; we especially the youth are almost to an extent trained to “toughen up” and deal with our problems and issues with rationality and reason than expressing empathy, compassion, and warmth. Putting forth our emotions over logic is seen as a flawed way to confront our shortcomings. Thus, it also created a culture that is terrified of true intimacy and affection that gets carried over to adulthood. Certainly, rational thought will always be an important aspect of human behavior however, this doesn’t mean our emotional needs should be disregarded as baggage or a nuisance. We are more complex and capable than we give ourselves credit for. 

Without being open about how we feel, nothing can be resolved. Sometimes, we just need a shoulder to cry on to help ease the pain and this can’t happen if there remains a stigma on what is acceptable or not in showing vulnerability. No single human being should be mocked for feeling the way they do and should be free to talk about these emotions without judgment. At the end of the day, true strength is revealed in how we pick up the broken pieces within ourselves and rise above our internal battles after revealing our weaknesses. 

So the next time you feel down, cry it out or start a conversation with those you trust then maybe just maybe, you’ll wake up with a smile. 

Published on: November 7, 2020
Written by Rachel Anne Cuevas, current WYA Asia Pacific Regional Intern