B1 Intermediate UK 389 Folder Collection
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There are aspects to all of us that, if they
were exposed to a harsh or unsympathetic critic,

would result in severe humiliation and mockery.
From close up, we are, none of us, reliably

impressive. We get agitated, fretful, cantankerous
and panicky. Under the pressure of events,

we shout, slam doors and let out screams (or
wails). We have episodes of absurd clumsiness,

we bump into doors, trip and drop things down
our front. We're worried pretty much all the

time: about how others see us, about where
our careers are going, and about everything

important that we have forgotten to do in
our lives. We long for love, but are unthinking

and insensitive around those close to us.
We are gauche in our efforts to seduce and

pitiful in our requests for attention. Our
bodies have a range of shameful habits and

vulnerabilities. We are, from certain angles,
truly embarrassing propositions.

All this we struggle to hide. The inner idiot
is carefully monitored and ruthlessly gagged.

We have learnt from our earliest years that
the only priority around vulnerability is

to disguise it completely. We strive remorselessly
to look composed, to erase the evidence of

our silliness and to try to appear a great
deal more 'normal' than we know we are.

We are understandably very focused on the
downsides of vulnerability. What is far less

well-recognised is vulnerability's occasional
very significant and profound upsides.

There are moments when the revelation of weakness,
far from being a catastrophe, is the only

possible route to connection and respect.
At points we may dare to explain, with rare

frankness, that we are afraid, that we are
sometimes bad and that we have done many silly

things. And rather than appalling our companions,
these revelations may serve to endear us to

them, humanising us in their eyes, and letting
them feel that their own vulnerabilities have

echoes in the lives of others. Together, we
realise that the definition of what is normal

has missed out on key aspects of our mutual

In other words, vulnerability can be a bedrock
of friendship, friendship properly understood

not just, or primarily, as a process of admiration
but as an exchange of sympathy and consolation

for the troublesome business of being alive.
There can, of course, be unfortunate ways

of handling vulnerability: when we do so in
the form of an aggressive demand that others

rescue us, or when our frailties lack boundaries,
or when we are close to rage and hysteria

rather than melancholy and grief.
Good vulnerability doesn't expect another

person to solve our difficulties; we let them
see a tricky part of who we are, simply in

the hope that they will be emboldened to feel
more at ease with their own, less dignified

sides. Good vulnerability is fundamentally
generous: it takes the first step at disclosure

so as to render it safe for others to unburden
themselves and disclose something of their

hidden selves in turn. It is a gift in the
form of a risk taken for someone else.

Furthermore, displays of vulnerability have
a curious way of signalling that we are, despite

the embarrassing avowals, far from fundamentally
ridiculous or pitiful. We are, rather, strong

enough to be weak; to let our silliness, our
idiocy, our anger and our sadness show, confident

that these do not have to be the final verdicts
on who we are. We proceed with a bold sense

that despite the lack of surface evidence,
everyone is in the end as wounded, aggrieved,

worried and damaged as we are and that we
are not therefore, through our disclosures,

casting ourselves out of the clan for good:
we are simply reconfirming our essential membership

of the human race.
It is something of a minor tragedy that we

should spend so much of our lives striving
to hide our weakness when it is in fact only

upon the dignified sharing of vulnerability
that true friendship and love

can arise.
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The Importance of Vulnerability

389 Folder Collection
osmend published on September 23, 2017
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