My name is Katy and I’m the writer behind Journeyofsmiley blog. Last month I shared my story about going back to the gym after over a year on my Instagram account. It wasn’t easy to share the story, as I felt vulnerable regarding my weakness in front of others. It was bad enough to show my feelings in front of the gym instructor, so you can imagine how hard it was to share them with others on a media platform. However, the response I received was overwhelming. It made me think that perhaps showing raw emotion in front of others is not as bad as we believe. What if our vulnerability isn’t a weakness, but rather a sign of strength? Considering this, I wanted to write this guest blog post for Pastor Natalie on letstakeamoment.com
What if the vulnerability that I felt so ashamed of as I shed tears in front of my gym instructor was just honesty? What if I was only being honest with myself and the gym instructor, trying to help me get to where I once was? Being back at the gym after over a year was overwhelming. Before my accident, I used to come to the gym regularly and could do so much more than I can now. Accepting reality is not always so easy. Even if we acknowledge how far we have had to come and how hard we are trying, it can be often bitter. We may miss our previous life, and we can sometimes grieve it. The mixed feelings can come out as tears. I couldn’t hold them any longer and suddenly burst into tears. The feeling of being overwhelmed took over and made me feel ashamed.
I was so ashamed of myself for showing my emotions. I was appalled. “Surely, I passed this stage already? I’m ok with how things are now,” I was telling myself. And I was so embarrassed. I didn’t expect to show my vulnerability on my first day back at the gym. As I walked home from the gym, I was deeply embedded in my thoughts. Why is it so embarrassing to show our feelings in public? Why are we so scared to let our emotions take over in front of others? How often did we hear as children, that strong girls don’t cry? And it was even worse if you happened to be a boy. Are we telling the same thing to our children too?
But then, what are we trying to teach our children? Do we want them to grow into empathetic human beings or cold superhumans and without feeling robots? I definitely know I am not a superwoman. I shared my weakness with people I didn’t even know. I didn’t only shed a few tears in front of the gym instructor; I also shared the story with others. I made myself doubly vulnerable whilst being honest. But then, isn’t honesty something we should value?
When being honest, we also hope that others won’t judge us. And my gym instructor didn’t do so. Instead, she told me that she understood and that it was ok. She also said that there was no need to apologize for my tears. My vulnerability didn’t mean that I had overshared and offered up every detail to a stranger for their consumption and judgement. Although she knew it, I needed to know it as well. I needed to know that I don’t have to be afraid to embrace who I really am and pretend to be someone I’m not. Even though vulnerability may not be comfortable, it makes us resilient.
Vulnerability doesn’t always feel comfortable. It often makes us feel weak. But that’s only an illusion, our belief. The reality is it enabled me to be myself. It allowed me to be my authentic self. I could have frozen, swallowed the lump in my throat and held back the tears until I’d walked home. But I didn’t. I let myself feel what I was feeling and then picked myself up and finished the exercise. And if this isn’t courage, then what is it then?
Sometimes it takes courage and strength to show how you really feel. So, if you ever catch yourself showing and sharing your vulnerability with others, think of it as a sign of strength. Don’t be afraid to be honest and feel life as it is. In a world where insecurities are often masked, and people tend to hide behind personas which they have created for themselves, being honest can be rare and beautiful. A strong human being can be both beautiful and vulnerable at the same time.
Katy Parker is a wellbeing writer and mental health advocate based in the UK. She has worked hard to overcome her trauma and writes about her experiences to help others in similar situations. She continues to share her journey on her Journeyofsmiley blog
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