Discovering The Power of Vulnerability As A College Student

Discovering The Power of Vulnerability As A College Student

Because it's impossible to selectively numb your emotions.

Before you continue reading, stop, call your university's on-campus student psychological services and book an appointment to see a therapist.

I know what you're thinking: "I don't need a therapist. I'm perfectly fine. Besides, there's no way in hell I'm going to sit in a chair and cry to a stranger for an hour while they jot down notes about my problems."

But therapy and counseling are so much more than a chance to vent to some rando with a master's degree. It's an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself, understand how you're feeling, why you feel the way you feel, cope with those emotions, and improve yourself from the inside out. I'm a testament to that.

At my university, we have CAPS, (Counseling And Psychological Services). I have been attending FGCU for three years and never once thought about visiting CAPS, until last semester. A friend who had begun going suggested it to me. She said that even if you think you're fine, you never know what emotions you're burying in your subconscious. It couldn't hurt to explore your mind a little more, you know? So one day after class when I was free I decided to stop in.

What they don't tell you about therapy is that it won't work unless you're willing to work. Your therapist doesn't have a magic wand that they wave and suddenly "fix" you and all your problems. They're simply there to listen, occasionally ask questions, and nudge you in the direction of whatever end-goal you set for yourself. It's your job to take whatever you see fit from your session and apply it to your life.

My therapist was a young woman, and very sweet. I remember my first visit being extremely awkward. I sat down in her dimly lit office on this big comfy sofa. She sat across from me and asked me one question, "What do you hope to accomplish here?"

I honestly didn't know. It wasn't like I had gone through any sort of trauma or abuse. I wasn't clinically depressed or suicidal. I wasn't an addict or hearing voices in the back of my head. I was simply a college girl who struggled with the things that most college girls did: self-esteem, stress, mild anxiety. But those weren't things I necessarily wanted to have a conversation about.

One thing that I hadn't known but quickly learned about myself is that I am really...well...cold. I can be guarded and detached and dismissive. I ball myself up really tight in an effort to protect my already damaged ego. Often times when my therapist would ask me questions about things I felt insecure about or my trust issues with men or people that have hurt me in the past I replied with laughter. Not nervous laughter. Just hysterical laughter. It was strange. But it was easier than letting it show on my face that I held a lot of pain regarding those subject matters. Whenever I felt a swell in my chest or tears burning behind my eyelids I cracked a joke or made an off-handed sarcastic comment and smiled. Finally, my therapist asked me why I kept making light of my negative experiences. I told her I wasn't sure. But she did.

I'm afraid of being vulnerable.

If you think about it, most of our generation has the same fear. We live in the age of social media and so we're completely desensitized to tons of horrible things. Not to mention that it's become cool to not care. People are constantly posting memes online about how they "DGAF" about anything or anyone. Hashtags like #NoNewFriends go viral, encouraging everyone to be just as detached from human connection.

We naturally want to block any emotion that will give more people the chance to hurt us. We sacrifice our vulnerability in hopes that we won't ever have to feel that pain again. But I realized that all that does over time is create a shell of a person, since you're not able to deprive your mind of one element without affecting the rest. You cannot be whole without allowing yourself to feel ALL of your feelings.

At the end of the last session, I had with my therapist she gave me a link to a TedTalks video to watch. The speaker was a woman named Brene Brown. She talked about how she was in a constant fist fight with her vulnerability, trying to make it go away. I subconsciously do the same thing every day. I kind of suck my shameful or fearful emotions up like a vacuum and keep them hidden. Being soft and being sensitive is lame, I remind myself. But there's nothing lame about acknowledging that you are hurting.

The most memorable thing from that TedTalks was when Brene emphasized that we can’t selectively numb our emotions. We can’t numb one emotion without stifling our joy or happiness. It was a revelation for me. It explained the reason why for a long time, and still to this day, I struggle with happiness.

We equate being emotional to being weak. We equate being vulnerable to being powerless. But there is so much power in owning your vulnerability. There is so much beauty in opening yourself up to someone completely and unapologetically. Being an expressive, emotional being isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's how you balance those emotions is what is important.

Our experiences, of course, shape our attitude about the world. But they don't have to negatively affect relationships with yourself and others in the future.

Cover Image Credit: 123rf

Popular Right Now

Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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​The Motivation To Get Back To The Gym Only Comes From Yourself, Not Online Fitness Influencers

After a long winter break, are you ready to get back to grinding?


My winter break was filled with time spent with friends, family, working, and of course, eating lots of food!

Too much food to be completely honest. My holiday food baby is still kicking with late night cravings, and endless amounts of french fries that I absolutely DO NOT need to keep consuming from different restaurants.

My latest excuse from bringing myself to the gym is from being too tired- although I work incredibly late (till around 2 A.M almost every night) I can't help but feel drained and empty the next morning to get myself up, and run 2 miles on the treadmill. It just doesn't make sense to me why I would do such a thing when my body is clearly over-exhausted from late nights at work.

Getting to the gym is like a mind game- you wanna go and get back into shape, but you feel restricted when you haven't been there in approximately 9 years. You have to get in the car that's freezing, walk into the gym filled with people who are in much better shape than you are, and find some way to get yourself motivated to get back on the grind you used to know and love before the holidays started.

Working out in this society is something many post about on social media, especially influencers. Fitness guru's flood Instagram and YouTube with the latest workout routines, as well as show off their "bikini body" and their body progress. This can easily make women who are not consistently going to the gym or eating health feel bad about themselves because they may not have the same body figure. Although it could be motivating to see others working out online, it could also be damaging to one's mental health when they don't have the same level of motivation or body figure.

It all comes down to your mindset and attitude about working out!

Sitting in bed waiting for yourself to just go back to the gym and pick up from where you left off isn't going to make the process any easier. Relaxation mode is completely different than the grinding mode, people! If you want something to change, whether it is to lose weight or just to tone certain parts of your body, it won't happen unless you put effort to do so. This means your body, but also your mind needs to be ready to make that change. If you are in the mindset that you want to sit back and relax, there is no doubt that you wouldn't have a good work out because the entire time you are tirelessly running or lifting, you would be wishing you were home in bed doing nothing.

Your mind needs to be equally as prepared to set goals for yourself in the weight room.

The best ways to motivate yourself to get back to the gym are pretty simple- changing your diet by including healthier options could help, drinking lots of water, and even putting on a pair of work-out leggings could put you in the mindset to get back to the gym. As long as you are working out to better yourself physically and mentally, and not comparing your body type to others on social media, you will feel more positive and get a better work out in rather than feeling the need to compete with others.

Working out regularly is about self-growth- it's about doing what you can to see the changes you want to make with your life. It won't happen overnight, but it is possible! It is finally 2019; a new year filled with new beginnings. Put yourself out there, get motivated, and do what you can to live a healthier lifestyle.

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