Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vulnerability

Because we exist we are vulnerable, but how we express, or suppress, our vulnerability varies greatly.

This post had been building inside me for some time so I hope I give it justice on this lonely Tuesday night come Wednesday morning.

Studies of our hard-wiring and our human instincts reveal that there are some things that we, as human beings, just *like*. Doe-eyed, pouting and seemingly helpless females are undoubtedly annoying to some (like myself), yet powerfully magnetic and attractive to others. I would put it that those who find these stereo-typed beauties insulting and offensive are typically women who have worked hard to build up their own wall of self-protection and denial. I count myself as no exception to this rule.

While watching 'The Castle' for the umpteenth time on the weekend, I was again reminded of the first time I saw Sophie Lee on TV. She was hosting an afternoon kids cartoon show, Warner Brothers I think, and she was the absolute most nervous person I had ever seen on TV. I remember thinking to myself that she'd be gone and forgotten in a week. But, somehow she survived, and week by week she became less nervous, but she was, despite her ongoing presence, never what I would consider to be an entertaining host. Obviously, the Australian public saw something that I didn't and while she never achieved huge acclaim, her success does, in my opinion, support the principle I am exploring in this post - that of the irrepressible attractiveness of vulnerability.

Do you consider yourself to be a vulnerable person? Some do and use it to their advantage. Calista Flockhart is another one that I loathed at first sight that seemed to 'hit a nerve with the viewers' that warranted her extended invitation to our loungerooms over the last decade (although I do so love her in 'Brothers and Sisters'). She is vulnerable with her slight frame and he hollowed facial features, but flighty, and providing, in some instances, an admirable sense of self-assuredness to balance that vulnerability. Oh, to be able to pull of that slight of hand!

It seems to me that we choose the amount of vulnerability we display to the world. Isn't is most girl's fairy tail to be swept of our feet by a handsome prince on a white horse? How can we do this if we are standing up against our 'expected image' of being the damsel in distress?

But do we take it too far? Do some people not see our vulnerabilities and mistake us for hardened? Insensitive? Overly independent? What knight wants to rescue a princess who can fight her own battles and won't need her to stimulate his hero-complex throughout the rest of his days?

And here we come to the crux of the matter. We don't want to be vulnerable but we turn people away with our strength. We strive for equal opportunities and self empowerment but subconsciously, due to our genetic hard-wiring, we are no longer viable candidates for a give and take relationship as we don't need so others won't allows them into our circle of need.

It's a hard line and I don't know how to be any other way but I am not vulnerable. But, that doesn't mean I don't need. Because I can be strong it doesn't mean that I never need support. Because I can make hard decisions it doesn't mean that I don't agonise over them and wish there really was a path of least resistance. Because I can continue with life in the face of devastation does not mean that I am not torn apart by the harsh realities of this world.

And so, for me, I guess 'vulnerability' is not a word that springs immediately to mind when you see me but I am human, and vulnerability is a human quality. We are none of us immortal and we all feel the effects of the world in which we live, for better of for worse.

Therefore, forgive me for the image I project for that is who I feel safest to be today. For those who have seen me in moments of weakness, I am grateful, for you keep me real and are a reminder that I can be loved even when I don't feel worth in myself. And for those who feel the same way but never show it, know that you are understood by more people than you realise and that's ok because we each deal with things in our own way and when we are released of labels and can just be then we are truly free. Judgement of ourselves is the burden for others to bear. Let them classify as they need to for the world to make sense to them but let us just be who we are, vulnerable or not, and replace second-guessing of others with pride for who we are and all we survive each day.

11 comments:

Lisa said...

dear Wendy- my partner in after midnight blogging.

I see myself in my minds eye as a strong woman. I know I am, you know i am, anyone i meet knows i am and yet, i too can be oh so vunerable, can be hurt so very bad.

My problem is perception- I am just too perceptive for my own good and it can be a curse as well as a blessing.

I am vunerable becasue i FEEL how people feel towards me, when theya re having ago at me, when they are referring to me, even when my name is never mentioned- my perception and intuition are what keep me vunerable- theya re the chink in my armour.

I guess that is why blogger has alwsy been my life line, becasue i can be myself without fear of hurt- well, until recently in some cases- these days even blogger doesnt feel completely safe to me anymore..........
gosh look at me rabbitting on- the worlds longest comment and it probably amkes no sens

Lisa xx

Lisa said...

excuse the spelling- it is more missed keys than bad spelling and it is vewwy late

Michelle said...

Yes indeed.

SweetPeaSurry said...

What a fantastic post. I was mesmerized by it. I think you've hit the nail on the head. I can be strong, and vulnerable. I can be weak and still make necessary decisions. Sheesh, it's so bloody simple.

Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post....bring back the era of the Goddess! strong women who were admired and respected...w.w.

Hippy Witch said...

Very fitting observation for us women of today, most of us are exactly like that.

Natalie said...

Hi, Wendy, I found that whole vulnerability / strong thing so frustrating when I was a single mum and dating.
The men wanted you to be strong and independent (so they wouldn't feel pressured to take on your kids), but also to be doe-eyed and vulnerable in the bedroom so they could take care of you and feel manly. AARGH!
It was so frustrating - you had to be everything to them, they could just serve up whatever.

Great post as usual.xx

jewell said...

go sister...you have just put inot words all that i feel and know about myself also

i know people only see my strengh, i know people are surprised when i cry....but that's for them to deal with not me anymore

Love you xxx

angela said...

I think that those of us that show the strong side of our personalities, often need the strength of others. When I am being the strongest its then that I need someone to hold me the most. Is that making sense to you.
I hope so.

Jen said...

Beautiful writing Wendy..

A very thought provoking post!!

Jen
xox

John said...

I've been considered by some to be soft... and therefore somehow not as strong as I should be.
As it happens, though, I'm generally stronger than most of the people who feel this way about me.
I'm not tough, that's for sure - but toughness is too often confused with strength. I've dealt with situations that I knew would hurt or upset me - while I have often seen "tough" people avoid such situations.
I think it takes real strength to allow yourself a measure of vulnerability... to allow yourself to "feel" the world, even when it hurts...
but I think this has sometimes become confused with another, simpler, more annoying definition.
*
To be honest, when I was growing up, I too would get annoyed at those pouting, helpless, doe-eyed types who would stand against the wall screaming as their hero fought for his life
(while the rest of us, watching the movie, would yell: "Help him, you moron! Hit the bad guy with something!")

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