August 6th, 2023

Vulnerability & Embracing Authenticity

A dandelion as an abstract representation of vulnerability.

In a world that often celebrates strength and resilience, the idea of vulnerability can seem counterintuitive. I was taught to put on a brave face, to conceal my struggles, and to present an image of unwavering confidence. However, I’ve come to realize that beneath this lies a profound truth: embracing vulnerability is key to forging meaningful connections and achieving personal growth, and I’m struggling to let my guard down.

Story Time

Recently, I dove into creating a short film script that captures the ups and downs of my coming-of-age story. Along the way, I stumbled upon some meaningful insights that I think could really connect with others, and more importantly, help people who are going through similar experiences.

As I’ve been immersed in crafting this script, a surge of joy and excitement has accompanied me. However, it’s also led me on a journey into revisiting past experiences and confronting present-day struggles, unearthing both moments of reflection and traces of past wounds.

In my script, the main character grapples with his identity as a young man. A vital realization about himself emerges, one that he fears might not align with the expectations of his social circle. Despite the inner tug-of-war, he courageously chooses the path of honesty, revealing this significant truth to those who matter most. Yet, the response he receives from his friends proves disappointing, leaving him standing in solitude, a poignant reminder that the journey of self-discovery isn’t always met with open arms.

Similar to my main character’s experiences, I’ve found that my own honesty has often been met with a less-than-welcome reception. It’s led me to wonder whether sharing my true thoughts and feelings is a risky endeavor, creating a barrier to being open and vulnerable with others. This journey has taught me to navigate life wearing a metaphorical bulletproof armor, a shield that, while protective, also distances me from the potential for deeper connections.

Just like any fellow filmmaker, my ultimate aspiration is to see this script come to life on the screen. However, the road to achieving that dream requires a unique form of bravery – I must embrace vulnerability. By bringing forth a deeply personal narrative to share with the world, I’m essentially baring my soul and allowing myself to stand exposed before an audience, a process that’s extremely challenging.

This challenge became even clearer when I attempted to share my script with my students. It got me thinking: if I find it difficult to open up and be vulnerable with these students, a wonderfully open-minded group, how can I expect to extend that vulnerability to the broader world? It’s a pondering that nudges me to examine the depths of my willingness to share, connect, and grow.

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    Understanding the Nature of Vulnerability

    Defining Vulnerability: Vulnerability is the act of opening up and revealing our authentic selves—our emotions, thoughts, fears, and desires—to others. It’s the willingness to remove the armor we’ve built around us, exposing our true selves to the world.

    Strangely enough, It takes tremendous courage to let down our guard and share our innermost selves, knowing that we might encounter judgment or rejection.

    The Factors that Make Vulnerability Challenging

    From what I’ve learned, there are two core reasons why embracing vulnerability can be quite a challenge:

    Fear of Rejection and Judgment: The fear of being rejected or judged often holds me back from vulnerability. I’ve learned that I worry that my authentic self won’t measure up to the expectations of others, leading me to hide behind a mask of conformity.

    Past Trauma and Emotional Baggage: Past hurts and traumas can create emotional barriers that prevent us from being vulnerable. The scars of past experiences can make it difficult to trust others and to share inner struggles.

    The Benefits of Embracing Vulnerability

    While I’m still on my journey to fully embody this and put it into practice, based on what I’ve read and heard, there are some remarkable advantages to embracing vulnerability. These are the very benefits I eagerly anticipate experiencing firsthand one day.

    Authentic Connections: When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we create a space for genuine connections to flourish. Sharing our true selves fosters empathy and understanding, leading to deeper relationships with others.

    Emotional Liberation: Letting go of the weight of our emotional burdens through vulnerability can be incredibly liberating. It frees us from the stress of maintaining a facade and allows us to experience a greater sense of emotional well-being.

    So here I am, taking a leap into vulnerability. Pouring out my feelings in the way that comes most naturally to me – through well-structured words on paper.

    Sure, sharing this insight might make me feel a touch vulnerable, yet it’s just a taste of what it means to be open in person. That’s a goal I’m determined to reach. To boldly face those challenging moments, and when confronted with a personal question, effortlessly unleash my inner thoughts and emotions without skipping a beat.

    To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

    Professor Keating — Dead Poets Society.

    Like always, until next time,
    Danny Bribiesca

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