Pins & Needles: A Response to Vulnerability

October 14, 2018

Have you read my most recent poem yet? Check it out here!


For the past several weeks, one question has been swirling around my brain:


What is it about vulnerability that scares us so much?


Call it me being a new wife, learning the ins and outs of living life with another human, or maybe its moving back to the Inland Northwest, or beginning the (very expensive) immigration process with my husband-- but whatever it is "vulnerability" has become a hot topic in the Apa household. 




But here's what I think: The total exposure that comes with being vulnerable leaves the potential of being seen as unworthy. Admittedly, this is a conclusion I came to after watching Brene Brown's TEDtalk (definitely check it out), so the idea is far from original. But the thought of existing so-out-in-the open implies that a critical relationship of ours (let it be a spousal, boyfriend/girlfriend, friendship, even our association with the future) is at risk because of a significant pain potential. 



history behind "vulnerability":


  • The Dictionary definition:

    • "the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

  • "Vulnerare", the Latin root, means "to wound".  

    • When someone or something is vulnerable, they are susceptible to criticism or failure as well as to literal wounding. 

  • The word was essentially nonexistent until the 1930s, an interesting tidbit, considering the 1930's were the peak of the Great Depression in America, a decade of extreme vulnerability for the entire nation. 

    • Jsyk, "weakness" is a word that is often (mistakenly) associated with vulnerability and whose usage has steadily decreased since its peak in 1779.


Sources: Merriam Webster Dictionary & Google's Ngram Viewer (a nifty program that shows the usage of a word in literature over a period of time)



Brene Brown did a massive study on vulnerability during her initial attempt to debunk the concept, but after she realized the pattern of people who embraced vulnerability (aka, those who lived with a "whole-heart") the focus of her study, and the direction of her life, shifted completely. 



 Whole-hearted people, or those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, have these things in common:


1. The courage to be imperfect

  • "Courage" in Latin is "cur": to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

2. Compassion to be kind to themselves first and then others.

  • ​Choosing to be kind to yourself first allows you to fill up your cup, so you may pour into others without running yourself dry before the job is complete (aka burnout)

3. Deep connections as a result of authenticity.

  • By intentionally investing time & energy into people who demonstrate an authentic lifestyle, whole-hearted people forge deep connections with healthy and positive people while pursuing authenticity themselves. 

4. Fully embrace vulnerability and willing to do something without any guarantees. 






That's all I have for today! So much of what God has been teaching me about vulnerability came through Brene Brown's TEDTalk and residual research ( like what I found out here, here and here ).


I have so much more to say, but that would make this post waaay too excessive, so I decided to break it up and make this is the first installment of a mini-series I am creating on the topic.


Stay tuned for my thoughts on the difference between "feeling" and "being" vulnerable, and if you submitted an answer to my question on vulnerability over Facebook or Instagram, check back soon to see my response!  


So excited and already working on what's to come!


With Love,

Meliah Apa 


"What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful" - B.Brown



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