An Unexpected Lesson On Vulnerability

I dreamt of becoming a mental health advocate for a very long time. As a teen, I dreamt of one day improving my health and being a source of inspiration for others with similar experiences. And even though I still have a long way to go at age 24, this year was the first time I considered beginning my advocacy. So a couple of months ago, I obtained enough courage to create a blog and write my personal story as my first blog post.

But even then, I didn’t have enough courage to publish the blog publicly. Weeks would pass by and I would stare at my computer screen, afraid of presenting my issues to the world. You see, sharing my mental health story has always been a huge fear of mine because it would show a vulnerable state no one has seen and I never wanted to be  perceived as “weak”. Back then, only my closest family and friends knew bits and pieces about my mental health, but I never opened up entirely about my experiences. This scared the hell out of me. I just didn’t want to be “that person” people felt sorry for and most importantly, I was afraid of letting people down.

It took about a month until I realized that I just needed to face my fear and share my story. I remember finally pressing the “publish” button and just sitting there for a good 5-10 minutes.  Everything seemed fine at first, until the anxiety kicked in and I couldn’t hold back the tears. Negative thoughts started running through my head and it created the biggest knot in my stomach.

What are my friends and family going to think of me? Will they think less of me?

My anxiety picked up as people started reading and the comment notifications popped up on my screen. I remember telling myself that I would take down my blog post if anyone responded negatively so I literally held my breath as I started reading these comments. Surprisingly, the exact opposite of what I had anticipated happened.

Rather than people feeling sorry for me, I had people telling me that they were “proud” of me. Rather than people seeing me as “helpless”, they told me I was “strong” for sharing my story. Rather than people offering help, they reached out and felt comfortable enough to share their stories and seek advice. It was shocking.

As soon as I was done reading, I stepped away from my computer to breathe and reflect on what just happened. The experience was puzzling and I couldn’t understand how showing my imperfections “inspired” people.

—   —    —

A couple of days later, I stumbled upon a quote online by Criss Jami:

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”

I  learned a lot from this experience but I think the biggest lesson was realizing that my perception of vulnerability was incorrect. All my life, I associated vulnerability with weakness and it wasn’t until I showed vulnerability that I felt true courage and empowerment. Being vulnerable allowed me to connect with people with similar experiences and built up my strength. I have never been this happy and I am so thankful for everyone who has shown support on my blog.

 I hope that this blog post gives you courage to show vulnerability and not be afraid of it. Embrace it, be beautiful, be authentic and never forget that

Your Strength can be shown through vulnerability.

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