Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weakness is a Strength or Not?

I read this blog post about weakness as a strength and it has been tumbling around in my head ever since. I thought it was an interesting perspective and at first I thought I disagreed.  I really enjoy reading Adrienne's thoughts and they are inspiring. There have been several that have made me dig down deep and really look at things I have not looked at for awhile. To pick up things that have gotten dusty and brushed them off to see what is underneath all the dust.

I have been composing a response the last few days and just now I went to re-read the post to make sure I address all the different things I disagree with and now I have picked up on some things I didn’t notice the first time. So, maybe it is not that I disagree but instead that a person needs to have people to be ok with them showing vulnerability. I know from experience and observations of others that the same behavior or traits is not acceptable in everyone. It could be a positive trait or negative. One person might get away with being lazy because they are very charming. While another person might be just as lazy but not charming so they don’t get away with it. (There are many examples but that is the first one that came to my head.) So, in order to show vulnerability a person needs people that support in that way, not saying that people can’t be supportive in other ways, but in order to feel comfortable showing vulnerability a person has to have the other person think it is ok. I realize now that that is what I haven’t had. I have grown up with people always expecting me to be the strong one and to not complain or be vulnerable. So, since people expect that of me if I show the smallest bit of vulnerability they don’t react positively. I have shown it in trust, but many people have abused my trust over the years (taking that vulnerability and using it against me to get something they want) and it has actually widened the gap rather than bringing us together.  I am a person that will trust easily when I first meet people, but if you hurt my trust it will take a long time to ever get it back. But for this post if I don’t even dwell on when I was growing up but just in the last 3 years I see that I am still expected to be strong.

Last fall I reached out to a few people about some problems, letting just a tad of vulnerability show and the response I got from all of them was that I needed to be stronger. I know that I have always been friends with people older than myself and most of the time people think I am older than I am, so I think sometimes people forget that I am not as old as they are. The people I turned to are older than me and have lived overseas much longer than me and have way more experiences than I have. So, I don’t know if they have forgotten being fairly new to overseas and what they really felt like experiencing problems or they really think I am just a wimp for thinking that the problems I have experienced are bigger than stubbing my toe. After showing just that tad bit and getting that response I haven’t shown any more because I know now with those people it is not welcome.

Even with the death of my grandpa earlier this month I stayed strong and didn’t show how much of an effect it had on me. I went to work every day and if it hadn’t been for one person who I finally told because she was perceptive enough to pick up on my wearing all black and looking not so upbeat, no one would have ever known. I was still given that it happens to everyone and it is just part of living overseas. So, I stayed strong at school and waited until I got to my house where no one could see me before I gave into my tears and sadness.

I rarely show vulnerability to people back home. They think that I am brave to be living overseas and many of them admire that I had the guts to do it. I rarely post about problems I have experiences living overseas or I joke about it like it is no big deal because I am trying to show strength to those people back home. I don’t want them to think it is hard and I can’t handle it. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. (There is more of a back-story there for another time.) I have friends who a missionaries in Africa and they tell people back home about the good and bad, but for them it is ok. People are ok with it and send them words of encouragement. I wonder sometimes if they weren’t missionaries would they still get words of encouragement when they deal with a difficulty living overseas.

I took a risk awhile back and showed some vulnerability on my blog after I was inspired by the Where am I from poem. I have had lots and lots of people read that poem, but not a single person has left a comment. It has made me a little nervous. There has been no encouragement and I don’t know what people think. I don’t know if they see it as positive thing or negative thing. Part of me wishes that I had never been caught up in the moment of writing a poem for the first time in years and the encouragement to post it on my blog. Sometimes I worry that it will have a negative impact on me, but it is there for all to see. Even if I took it down now, so many people have already seen it.

For the last few months I have been trying to make a big life decision. It has been hard. I have thought that people back home might think that I am not strong if I choose path A over path B. I have also thought about the people that I look up to overseas that they will think I am not strong enough if I choose path A. But then I realized that to the people I look up to overseas I am just a small blip on their screen and they are not my support system. They do support me in some ways and are a great PLN, but they don't provide it in some areas where I need support. We are in different places in our lives and have different ideas about things, so I shouldn’t make a decision based on how I am worried that they will view me as weak. As for the people back home, well I have done what most of them have only dreamed about and when I am an old lady looking back at my life I will have no regrets. I have done all the things that I set out to do. Now I can just enjoy the rest of life’s ride. So, it shouldn’t matter then what they think of my decision. I also have a better support system back home. There are those people that I can be vulnerable with: my parents, brother, and best friend who always have my back whether I am strong or weak.

So, my take away is that for some people it is ok to show vulnerability and for others it is not unless they have someone who is ok with that and gives them the support to be vulnerable.