“I can tell that you’re a seeker. I know of a book that will change your life. This book will blow your mind. Blow your mind.”
We’re in the middle of dinner at a wedding reception and she’s my name tag neighbor. She’s beautiful, in her early-50’s, and has a heavy New York accent. She ordered the pork chop, I’m stuck with salmon. I traded with a guy from Canada because I was a last-minute attendee and he actually filled out his card.
“Really? What’s it called?” I take a sip of my IPA.
“Yeah, I do plan on reading it soon.”
She starts to tell me that if I read the Bible first in Latin and Aramaic with the help of translators, and then in English; and accept Jesus as my savior, I will find true happiness. And then she said that something that struck me.
“In the Bible, four types of love are described: Eros love, which is sexual love; Agape love, which is the love Jesus showed to all of humanity, God’s love; Storge love, which is the love shared between family members; and Philia love, a brotherly love shared between Christians.”
It was interesting to look at the different types of love from a bird’s eye view. All laid out. What about overlaps? An image of a Venn diagram came to mind. What about when you develop romantic feelings for a friend? Or, when you move from Eros love to Philia love? I started to think about whom I love and loved, and how I love and loved them. I also started thinking about what all four types of love have in common.
What do they have in common? Vulnerability.
Loving someone takes a lot of courage. If it’s eros love, there’s the possibility that they may stop loving you. Or maybe you loved someone, but they didn’t love you back. That shit hurts. A lot.
If it’s familial love, there’s a chance you could lose that person.
If it’s a friend love, there’s the fear that they’ll stop caring, stop calling, that the relationship will slowly die off, and you will not have known why.
In terms of agape love, there’s a vulnerability in belief. Having faith in something involves a dance with belief and doubt. Spiritually, you can be open to attack, you’re vulnerable when you take a leap of faith.
Regardless of all the pain… Regardless of all the nights I spent crying myself to sleep; or wishing I could be with someone who didn’t want me; regardless of me loving my mother and father so much, I can’t imagine living without them; regardless of friend rejections; regardless of all that, we need to continue to make ourselves vulnerable. It’s worth it.
As we get older, we become more and more like sea anemones. Someone touches us, and we close up. We don’t want to be hurt again like we were. We wear masks. We’re afraid of telling our friends how we’re truly feeling because we’re afraid they might judge us. We show a little of our true selves, but keep the rest hidden because we’re afraid of what people’s reactions will be. We should be more open, more authentic in all of our relationships. Doing so strengthens our connections. At least, this is how I feel.
If you look back on your life, I’d venture to say that a lot your best moments were when you were at your most vulnerable.
When I was 17, I fell in love for the first time. Although it’s hard to remember, I think we had gone on four or five date-like outings, and still no kiss. After the, let’s say, fifth date, we were standing outside his house by my car. We had been talking for two hours. It was late. I got in my car to drive home, and he started walking inside. I was almost out of his driveway when I thought, “This is bullshit.” I reversed the car, parked, got out, walked up to him and kissed him. I was shaking. It comes to mind as one of the most vulnerable moments of my life, and one of the best.
The first day of college.
Arriving in Prague.
Some of my worst:
Navigating the lunch tables in middle school: popular, unpopular.
Loving someone who didn’t love me back.
Telling a guy I had a crush on him, and having him basically shut me down. Was that fun? No. Am I glad I did it? Yes.
Writing this post about vulnerability makes me vulnerable. It doesn’t fall into either category.
(I’d love to hear about moments, write me maybe?)
Vulnerability involves having someone really see you. Really see who you are.
In “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW explores vulnerability and the idea of shame. She says, “Vulnerability is the cradle of the emotions and experiences we crave. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity… I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure… If we want to reclaim the essential emotional part of our lives and reignite our passion with purpose, we have to learn how to own and engage with our vulnerability and how to feel the emotions that come with it…Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and experiences with those who have earned the right to hear them.” Her TedTalk on Vulnerability can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html.
What does this mean for us? This means calling a friend when you’re sad and talking about it. It means telling someone how you really feel about them. It means believing in possibility. It means taking risks. It means knowing, regardless of how your endeavor works out, at the end of the day, you are enough.
Vulnerability can be having a dissenting opinion; leaving your job; becoming a new mom; or trying something new. One thing is for sure, vulnerability takes bravery, and although its goes against everything we as human beings are inclined to do, we should embrace it and actively try to make ourselves more vulnerable.
P.S. It’s random act of kindness week! I will post what people wrote regarding their experiences on Sunday.