Sunday, August 07, 2011

Vulnerability versus Weakness

A few minutes ago, I wrote an entire post on the inherent vulnerability of being a single woman.  I decided that posting it made me feel even more vulnerable.

I don't like feeling less than strong, capable, and able to take care of myself in every situation.   One of my self-truths is that I'm single and, therefore, I can successfully rely on myself. I better be able to, because I refuse to wait around for someone else to do for me.  I don't like admitting that sometimes I need assistance.

You might have guessed that I don't much like feeling vulnerable.  Ever.

In addition to taking care of myself, I like taking care of others and being there for them.  If I'm on an airplane, I want to grab a mask, put it over my face and help the person sitting alongside.  I don't want to be the other person waiting for someone else to grab a mask to help me.

This emphasis on self-reliance is all well and good, but somewhere along the journey I got my signals crossed a little.  I decided that vulnerability meant weakness. 

I was wrong.  Weakness is something in our structure, a point in our foundation where we can break.  A weakness can make us vulnerable, sure, but the opposite isn't true.  Being vulnerable doesn't make us weak.  In fact, it helps us shore up our strength.  Recognizing our own vulnerability is an effective defense mechanism.  It's the awareness of my vulnerability that keeps me from walking down a dark street in a bad neighborhood or from putting myself in another dangerous situation that common sense tells me to avoid.

Admitting that I sometimes need help is neither a weakness, nor a vulnerability.  It's a realization that sometimes a task is bigger than one person can accomplish.   It's an acceptance that no human is immune to being overwhelmed and when that happens, it's absolutely okay to wave a hand and get some assistance.

We're a species that thrives on relationships.  Even though I'm not in a man-woman love relationship, I'm still a member of a community of friends and family.  These are people I'd help on a moment's notice and I know that they're happy to help me, too.  We can be the person who puts the mask on first for each other, and none of us is weaker being the recipient of the assistance.

I asked for help this week which was a big deal for me.  I say was because, after the asking I couldn't for the life of me understand why I made so much of it beforehand.  I was also offered help in another manner even before I asked.  That moved me to tears.  I'm grateful in both situations.

Not only will I receive the help that I need, but these are both examples of friends and family showing me that it's safe for me to admit my vulnerability.  Nobody will exploit it as a way to hurt me.  Help will be there for me and I am made stronger by the knowledge.

1 comment:

Hope said...

You know, you're one of the strongest women I know. :)