I grew up believing that tears were a sure sign of weakness. I was a tom-boy, and I still am, so I felt very strongly about crying; even when it happened in the dark and nobody was there to witness it. Fast forward to somewhere between 2011 and 2012, about a decade later, when I came across this quote by Washington Irving:
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
Looking back, I wish I had shed a few more tears and allowed people around me to do the same without letting them feel awkward about it after. My only defense is that I didn’t know better.
In 2013, after I quit my job as a receptionist because I was unhappy, a friend of mine introduced me to Ted Talks. The summary of it is that I have never been the same since. My favourite Tedster is Sir Ken Robinson. He helped me think about my life as organic as opposed to a linear model and I stopped feeling like a batch of product in a box meant for the job market. Brene Brown, another Tedster I really like, made me realize that vulnerability is a good thing. I shall be reading her book, Daring Greatly, because I want to gain the courage to be vulnerable so that I can in turn transform how I live, love, parent and lead. I am still learning how to lean into discomfort and how to put myself out there more, but I have seen myself improve and grow and have watched as some of my insecurities have faded into oblivion because of embracing vulnerability. Even my new hairdo – kinky untamed hair worn not-straightened – is an attempt at being comfortable with my natural look. I especially enjoy taking a shower from head to toe EVERY SINGLE MORNING and I looove my new shampoo. Vulnerability is allowing me to walk more comfortably in my own skin and helping me feel better connected to myself and the people I care about.
Should I meet Brene, I would love to tell her that I have shared her talk with a small group of teenagers who had just joined one of the top performing high schools in my country because I felt that they needed to know that it was okay to feel the pressure to excel in class and because everyone struggles with something. Their response proved to me that there is a need for the appreciation of vulnerability in our lives.
A close friend of mine told me, rather recently, that he was certain that I would look at him differently because I had seen him through his worst phase of a breakup. He went ahead to say that he was sure that I would break up with my boyfriend if he ever bore his soul to me like he (my friend) had done. It broke my heart to hear him say that. It especially made me feel terrible that I did not disagree with him 100%.
The inspiration for this post is Whitney Houston’s song I Look to You. I listened to it on my ride to work this morning and it made me sad because she was my heroine growing up – I wanted to grow up to sing like her – and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to still have her around. I don’t sing much anymore, but I plan on getting back to it because music does nourish my soul and those of others (I used to sing with a few friends at a hospital near home and it gave me such joy to share myself like that).
Cheers, good people!