This Is What You Learn When You Become Vulnerable

I wholeheartedly believe that learning is beautiful. It is sensational. It is something we were born to do—watching my father tie his work boots in the morning and as we would repeat the steps together until I had finally understood that you cannot skip step two because step three can only be done if step two is properly completed and not ignored. We learn how to swim—my grandmother would just yell as she was standing on the outside of the pool, “Just keep your head up and kick! Please do not drown, I am not a swimmer!” Regardless to my grandmother teaching a fearless five-year-old how to swim when she was not an advance swimmer herself, I had managed to learn. We learn how to ride a bike—it is confirmed when there isn’t anyone holding the back of our seat anymore and we are not found on the ground, with dirt in our mouths and skinned knees.

We learn how to drive a car. Open up our first checking account. Become self-sufficient. Pay our credit card bills on time. We learn to thank our veterans, because our grandfathers had taught us the importance of showing unconditional gratitude to our heroes. We learn how to properly shake hands, not too tightly, not too gently, but just right. But where in the midst of learning about being a human, do we learn how to emotionally let others into our darkest and most rigid corners? Where in between learning how to swim, or how to ride a bike, or the five steps to complete a tie with our laces, were we taught that it is okay to reveal who we really are without feeling shame, guilt, or discomfort? We weren’t. However, there are some things that people do not teach us, we can only find strength to teach ourselves.

I believe that self-discovery is infinite. However, there are just some things that we have already discovered and find no shame in telling the barista how we like our coffee to be made, “Can I please have a fat-free late, hot, with no whip cream, two extra shots of espresso, and please use the sugar-free caramel syrup.” We do not even stop for a second to catch our breath when we say the things we are so definite about, without a pause, or a moment to really think about how we want our coffee.

But when someone asks us to tell them about ourselves, we pause, we have to think. I find this to be so unfortunate; the shame we feel when we know so much about ourselves but have been taught to never say too much. The guilt that feeds our hearts when we are indeed broken, but our pride hides the brokenness so discretely. The mortification that we encompass when we are well aware of the facade we are creating and the false presentation we portray of our true identity, in absolute fear that we are too messy of a person. Maybe we are. But why is it considered a terrible thing, from the same beings who live in the same world? And who know how untidy, disoriented and complex life really is? If anything, we should be acknowledging the cold together.

Yes, experiences are staggering. Little and big life lessons that come and go, in our favor or not in our favor. However, we naturally learn from them. We learn after trusting someone else with our hearts, that no one can promise to never hurt you. Promises can be easily shattered as they are easily made. We learn after witnessing our parent’s failed, intoxicating and abusive marriage, that we will not want a husband who is outraged like our own father. We learn that our best friend who we once shared secrets with in the fort of sheets we had made, will change, and our friendship will one day be swaying away in the wind, finding a new place to land, with a different person, all for different rhymes and reasons.

We learn that the world is a cold place and we are all trying to survive the storm. However, people will show you how selfish they truly are when it comes to witnessing them trying to survive, independently. We will learn only after we allow someone in the most sacred parts of our lives—in our minds, in our beds, in our hearts, and in our families that they are not obligated to stay with us. We will learn to be vulnerable, and in turn, we will be mistaken for being weak, too sensitive and too emotional. But vulnerability does not define you as being weak, it actually proves that you are brave, bold and carry the right amount of courageousness in your heart to expose yourself entirely to another human being.

We will learn about life’s disappointments for our whole time here on Earth and the next time someone asks you who you are, be aggressive, tell them, do not pause or stop to think about it. I know you know who you are, embrace the moment where you take a leap of faith and share your story! If anyone has learned the most about anyone, it is you.

I am in the same boat as you, you are not alone. I am now learning the importance of not being afraid of the one thing I have worked so very hard to become, myself. I will tell you about the embarrassing stories of how I got the scar underneath my chin, the small one on my right leg that is approximately two centimeters big, and the one on my left hand. I will willingly tell you how I learned that the world is not such a terrible place after all, because there was a time where someone had shown me that goodness still lingers in the air that I breathe. I will not be ashamed to tell you of how I was once so far from knowing that it was not love that kept me in an abusive relationship, I was actually just lonely.

I will smile at you when I tell you that I am a very passionate person—you will pick up on that when I over use my hands when I speak about medicine or forensics, and especially, the human brain. I will never be afraid to tell you that I am a strong woman who can also appreciate the times where I am vulnerable because that means that I acknowledge that I am human, and a part of the human condition is to feel, entirely. I will tell you about rainy days—I find comfort sometimes in being in a dark mood because if the weather is allowed to be, I am allowed as well. I will tell you where I like to be touched and the best place I like to be kissed, behind my ear. I will tell you that this is all of me. I will stand there and look you fearlessly in the eyes and tell you that life is messy, I am messy, and you are invited to share this messy life with me. If you say yes, then we will endure this messiness together, shamelessly and willingly.

Love yourself, wholly. Keep learning about yourself and pay close attention to the things you were not taught as a child and even an adolescent, because you were not taught about them for a reason. And always be mindful, not everyone will teach you about the most valuable things in life. But, just because someone had failed to teach you to embrace yourself, your soul and your messy heart, does not mean that we should not be our own teachers. Sometimes we are in fact the best teachers when it comes to learning about ourselves. TC mark

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