A woman that has experienced vulnerability with plenitude comes today to tell us her point of view. Please welcome my guest from Egypt.
Thank you very much for being part of our #VulneRevolution series!
We want to explore the topic of vulnerability openly and honestly. No judgement or innuendo should follow your feedback, therefore please do your best to answer the questions below honestly, as your help may mean the world to someone else.
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1. What is your interpretation of vulnerability?
If I am to describe it as a “her”, Vulnerability would be a cloaked being, much like your Grim Reaper; she is filled with scars, more than the Warrior, and hides herself from everyone; she has thorns where her shadow edges are and barbed wires piercing her. She is cruel and harsh, lashing out at everyone, because she doesn’t want to be hurt anymore. She lives in pain constantly and just wants to shut the world out. She is sad and lonely but hurt and scared. She wants to be friends with her comrades, yet fears them hating her and fleeing how “hideous” she looks like, even though she is one of the most beautiful beings out there – even more beautiful than Kindness.
“The fun thing about being true to yourself is that you finally shine.”
2. Can you tell us about a time when you were vulnerable in the workplace?
I try my best not to show my vulnerability at work, as I like to keep up the tough persona facade. I’m as scared as the next person and, though I have knowledge of a few things, I also don’t know a lot of thing; so I try my best not to deal with the unknown, unless I’m putting on a show of “bravery”. I hate to admit it, but I’m scared of being called weak and scared of being useless, so I work harder and try to do more.
But, to be honest, when I was volunteering at Primrose, one of the assisted living residents was talking to me and I ended up becoming very vulnerable.
3. What happened?
I was going through a rough time, but I had to keep the facade of strength, even though I was completely and utterly shattered on the inside. You have to understand: I had an “easy” life. I kept getting reminded, over and over, how easy my life was; and how easy I had things coming and that I had nothing missing in my life; so “why was I complaining“? And…
“I broke down to a complete stranger, because he happened to have had the same thing told to him.”
I told him: “Yes, my life was easy; yes, I did not have any “hardships” – in the conventional way – but… Damn, I had hardships mentally”.
Does anyone understand what it means to be given everything – as in everything – and you have no excuse for failing? Yet you fail, over and over… and over again… In addition, the best excuse you can come up with is “Sorry, I didn’t concentrate well!” (rather than screaming that the stress of following the suit of very successful parents – who happen to be friends with a guy your age, who is such a genius by the means and has nothing for him – is a burden). But you fail!
Furthermore, how do you answer the “Why?”.
The elderly gentleman started to laugh, yet ended up giving me one of the best advice in my life: “Excuse my French, but who gives a damn if you are a genius or not? If you are not true to yourself, then who are you? You are not your parents or anyone else; so stop running away from yourself and be true to yourself! You’re a late bloomer, but you know what? Late blooms smell the best and are the most beautiful things you can see“.
So, I began to work on that. Being true to myself and just being me; an idiotic, dorky me!
“If I am to describe it as a “her”, Vulnerability would be a cloaked being, much like your Grim Reaper (…) even though she is one of the most beautiful beings out there.”
4. Do you regret it?
In the beginning, yes, I did regret it; because it felt like I was the butt of jokes and worth nothing, really. But I had to lift myself from the ground up! I had everything, on a material level – all the financial support one would ever need. But I had to build me! I had to fill that shell again and forgive myself for being too cruel on myself.
5. Nowadays, do you consider that being true to yourself and others is a sign of weakness/ vulnerability or strength? And why?
It’s a hidden strength, that does not show up until later in life. You will have people telling you that what you are doing is “career suicide”; and that you are the most moronic human they meet… and all sorts of harsh things.
Many of them are correct, but you know what? The fun thing about being true to yourself is that you finally shine. You shine so brightly and you rise just like a Phoenix from its ashes! You rise up against all odds and become a beacon of strength to others. Is strange how weakness can become strength! And how you realize, all along, that you truly are an amazing human being.
And yes, your life is easy and has no hardships; but specifically for that, you can take on people’s burdens and be the strength they need; to be the one they can rely on for being true to themselves and see where you failed. Perhaps, by making a sale or closing a deal, you win by making a client trust you enough to tell you things they won’t tell their boss or friends; you may have them ring you up, late at night, so you can be that crotch for them. And you realize – all alone – that your purpose and strength is in giving to others, not in giving to yourself. It’s fascinating what we humans are capable of!
“Late blooms smell the best and are the most beautiful things you can see.”
6. How did your experience with vulnerability influence your current state of mind? Would you recommend others to talk about it?
If you are comfortable talking about your own vulnerability, then go for it! It’s not an easy step and it’s very painful, because you might have been lying to yourself all these years. You might have “faked it till you believed it”.
Opening up changes a lot of things; therefore, while being vulnerable, you may not like what some people will tell you. You will get the “Oh, you call that bad? Well listen to this!”persona; and the one who befriends you out of pity; and the one with a “I can fix you”mentality. All of them are cute and all, but it’s not what you need. However, it will be something good for you!
7. If you can sum up in 1 word how you feel about your experience with vulnerability what would it be?
Nada Abdelhadi can be reached via her LinkedIn profile.
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Freelance writer & editor | Storyteller | Interviewer | Published author | Co-Founder of afsyn.com | Podcast host & producer