by Hannah Bohn
Photo courtesy of Amanda Willis
What is the distinction between an individual who is undeniably, contentedly themselves and a person who is restlessly caught in an unremitting cycle of self-doubt? The confident versus the unsure? Strong versus weak? The answer is simple and almost ironic, yet the majority of individuals still attempt to avoid it with every fiber of their being: vulnerability.
We often associate vulnerability with situations of discomfort in which we may feel exposed, like our micromanaged, internal walls are being torn down. This feeling of exposure, a piercing knife through the self-made surface of our fragile personas can most commonly force us into a corner of insecurity and displacement. Vulnerability detaches us from our usual patterns and habitual behaviors we rely on in day to day life, pushing us into a new and unfamiliar state. This unknown state plunges us into foreign territory, whether it’s the start of a new job, parting from a loved one or moving to a different city. However, the phenomenon of uncomfortable newness is the facilitator of success in relationships, personal growth and mental wellness.
It is wrong to associate power and control with a lack of pain, suffering or failure; Doing so dismisses the importance of the journey, what we learn from our experiences and how much growth lives within the mistakes we make and the challenges we face. Life’s setbacks are unavoidable; It is impossible to predict all of the future obstacles and times we may feel lost or stuck in the choke hold of life. Power is not having experienced as little of this as possible, but rather delving into these moments of vulnerability in order to expand the understanding we have of ourselves. The powerful are those who acknowledge struggle, openly let their wounds bleed and embrace their whole being, not just the pieces of themselves that seemingly appear the most attractive to others. To unwelcome any parts of ourselves is undeniably mistaken. An individual cannot only choose to feed certain qualities of themselves and hide the places in them that bring shame. Seeking acceptance from others before embracing the entirety of ourselves may only lead to an empty road of instant gratification and no long-term fulfillment. We cannot avoid the ugly parts of life, so we might as well learn to welcome the uncomfortable and find acceptance. Wholeness and stability may only be attained through the process of irrefutably caring for all that makes up you.
We must learn how to lean into the discomfort of our lives. Having the capability to sometimes be comfortable with the uncomfortable is not only essential in expanding our perspective and deepening the richness of life, but it allows us to build brilliant human connection and ties. So much time is wasted hiding the mess-ups, masking our flaws and manifesting fear of the unknown, when we could be humbling ourselves by tackling these gray areas head on. Allowing ourselves to find peace in life’s obscurity makes for the quickest pathway to knowledge and success. Once we break through the boundaries of our comfort zone, we can turn to our own sources of stability from within us and are no longer controlled by insecurity or self-doubt. Letting vulnerability have a place in our lives welcomes major growth and releases us from our own confining expectations of what life should look like—control and power manifest in those who can sit in life’s pockets of discomfort and open themselves to all it has to offer.