Vulnerability is important. This statement has reached an exorbitant popularity in recent years. Especially among us millennials and generation Z, who just love talking about mental health, and the usual, self-care. However, I've realized that not everyone is always the most willing to jump into the conversation.
Personally, I was not raised by a family that praised the confidence vulnerability can issue a person. But, thanks to a family friend, I decided to do my small amount of research on this. In the past few months, I'vve come across videos such as "Vulnerability is sexy," "The power of vulnerability," or the nice and simple "Embracing Vulnerability." Two things that were automatically detectable between each of these videos are:
1. Each shared the truth on how vulnerability can basically help you become more comfortable with yourself and any form of intimacy.
2. All of them were all led by, well, White people.
Before I begin this is not a "battle-of-the-races" piece. It's not a "white-this" or a "black-that" bit of text, at all. When I say that vulnerability is a topic rarely acknowledged by people-of-color, I'm saying that it is a subject people who are not-white will be far more hesitant to reflect on. The majority of advice on love, life, intimacy, and vulnerability are hardly ever given by a person-of-color.
Let alone vulnerability, we can go from either being a part of family that does not understand the mere concept of mental health, or even growing up in an environment where showing vulnerability is out of the question.
Yet, then you get to college and that's all you hear about. Literally, every opportunity for an R.A. to throw a dorm event turns into, "mental health forum-this," "mental-health-forum that," "self-care," "guys!! We're having a self-care night today!!!" The best part about those nights? The free face masks and bath bombs.
Although college is the main reason for myself to become interested learning more about vulnerability in general, there's a family friend of mine who indulges in learning about anything self-care related. She is always insisting on reading and watching all of the content she can on taking care of yourself, loving yourself, and discovering the power within. It's fun.
It's funny, too. Because we're both Hispanic and did not grow up hearing conversations about vulnerability and simply embracing your authenticity, or finding strength through owning your emotions. That's not always the case in every family, but it was the case for both of us. Growing up, seeing my mom cry was the equivalent to noticing a unicorn. I am able to count the times that she ever produced tears on one hand. There was never a time that I saw my dad shed a tear, either. I guess growing up in this country ('Murica) impacted my friend to learn more about vulnerability in general. Thankfully, she shares these "gems on self-growth."
As a person-of-color, vulnerability can be challenging because we just don't speak about the things still plaguing our hearts. Culturally, those conversations can seem to hurt you more than help. Depending on whom you're speaking to, they can turn that confession around and make you feel like shit about yourself. They may even pick at those insecurities until you're hurt or maybe even traumatized enough to no longer trust anyone else.
It happens. Whether it's random acquaintances, or maybe even a few friends or family, there are some trash people out there. However, those are the types of people who are uncomfortable with themselves. It might sound odd, but they're still hurting. Instead of at least showing empathy, they will take pleasure from knowing you feel just as equally insecure and broken. They won't ever open up. Is there a chance they may just act a bit more humane? Perhaps, but not for awhile at least.
If you don't have to, then don't waste your time with these types of people. They're either miserable or forever angry, and that's shitty energy to always surround yourself with.
I realized this after speaking to my family friend about overreacting or always feeling angry. She told me that is usually an inherited trait, and can be normal. But if you're always angry all of the time, then there's an issue. It's more than likely because you're not being honest with yourself about an occurrence that unquestionably impacted you negatively. "You have to figure out what's making you so angry. It's important because that tells you what hurt you, to begin with. It'll tell you why you react in certain ways, too." Yup, she hit the nail on the head.
Why was this the first time anyone had ever said this to me before? Because POCs usually allow that hurt to fester until it becomes mere anger. Believe it or not, but always feeling angry is an obvious sign of insecurity. That person is completely incapable of coming to terms with either losing, producing hurt feelings, or has never opened up. My theory is that since a POCs so-called "mental health gems" are found in just taking some time to yourself. Such as going to your room and "relaxing" until you miraculously feel better. Momentarily feel better. As those emotions come back later and leave you confused as to why you're so fed up with everything. Or, beginning to act as if you are immune to having feelings.
I made these observations after coming to college and speaking to people with the same life experiences, upbringings, or backgrounds. Honestly, a simple conversation that exudes vulnerability would be able to fix many of the mental issues POCs often acquire. Sharing these "gems on self-growth" is absent.
There are moments in which a few of these self-care articles are preaching a little bit too much about taking care of one's self. Like okay, a little bit of struggle or hurt is only meant to make you stronger. We should not be bursting into tears at the slightest notion of insensitivity. That's not the power of vulnerability, it's just giving people way too much power over you.
Nevertheless, I can see how these articles, textbooks, and TED talks would have very prominent impacts on other people's lives. All of these gringo discoveries teach would teach us more about ourselves personally. It would teach us to better understand ourselves, allowing us to read other people better. It would teach us that part of becoming honest with yourself stems from being vulnerable, and becoming just a bit more comfortable with yourself.
If you're a POC and have gone through some things, then becoming receptive toward these conversations, findings, and the concept of vulnerability might be, life-changing. Or, maybe you're not ready to have that conversation. Until I was, well, I wasn't. Or, maybe you were born not giving a fuck about anyone else's opinion. Congrats!
I found that becoming vulnerable with myself made me happier. After my dad's untimely death, my self-esteem was diminished. After recognizing this as true, it stopped impacting my vibe and overall happiness. That only happened after I became comfortable with admitting that his death hurt me. Pretending that I left that situation untouched because our time together was brief got me nowhere. Except being moody and just having bursts of anger out of nowhere directed toward anyone and everything. Which was normal for me to see and experience growing up, too. If you're a POC, you might relate.
Does it subconsciously impact me? Yes, everyone is by something. I am aware of that now after just admitting that his death did hurt me. After being vulnerable with myself, I started opening up about it with friends and family. I felt myself relax a lot more and stopped being angry or irritated all the time.
Allowing myself to have those moments of vulnerability let me be happier and feel a little lighter. It wasn't easy and became exorbitantly uncomfortable sometimes. It hurt my little itty-bitty-kiddy ego, too. I'm grateful because it has only helped me.
Honestly, it's time that we see some more POCs leading the conversations and writing the books that have helped others gain these self-growth gems for a while.