The Power of Vulnerability

A friend of mine once sent me a TED talk about the power of vulnerability which I watched with gratitude and awe. It was a really long time ago but the video highlighted the power of letting ourselves feel all range of emotions in order to live our life to the fullest.

Despite being so captivated by the video back then, I’ve found myself limiting the emotions I feel or at least making excuses when they’re not the “right” ones. I would overreact whenever my boyfriend hung out with his (what seemed to me) clingy friends. I would get angry and sad and every other shade of crazy. So my mom decided it would be helpful to go the school counselor where I could hopefully get tips on “controlling” my emotions. To my dismay, the lady I saw would repeatedly assure me that everything I feel is normal; that I need to learn to feel my feelings instead of try to control them.

Tonight, as a recurring family problem came up again I cried and cried. I kept telling myself that maybe I was crying because I had forgotten to take my birth control, because I was tired from work or I was stressed out about an assignment I have to complete. What I failed to realize was I was crying because I was sad. And that’s okay.

I am glad I can now recognize myself trying to cover up negative and uncomfortable feelings. I am also glad to realize that I can’t be happy all the time. I can only be human.

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New Year-Same Me?

You can’t escape your issues, no matter how hard you try. Two years ago on Christmas eve I had a major realization that I was way too insecure to be in a relationship with someone who failed to grasp my issues. I freaked out when he commented on other girls’ pictures or when he casually texted girls whose numbers he’d gotten the night before. I’d get this feeling in the pit of my stomach every single time I saw something which proved that maybe I wasn’t the only person he was interested in. But love is blind indeed and instead of building myself up I tore myself down. I’d pick the one characteristic I lacked that the other girl had and I’d use it as an excuse. Of course he’d want to flirt with her she’s so much more interesting and she is so much smarter. I suffocated myself with my own thoughts and anxiety over not being good enough. You can see why I felt like I had just been saved from drowning when a year later I got the courage to end the relationship. I spent months building myself up and telling myself I am wonderful. Until the next relationship hit and the same demons began to resurface. Sitting in my room on Christmas Eve this year I realized I haven’t changed much from the girl I was two years ago. I still let voices tell me that the other girl has better fashion sense, that the other girl is more artistic and more fascinating.

Fortunately, I also know now that I control these voices. I read a quote recently which has impacted me. “The most important relationship you will ever have is not with your spouse, your parents or your children. It’s with your thoughts. They are your most intimate companion.” I have always hated self help books and self help advice but I am at the point in my life when I’m finally realizing the validity of helping myself. Being told I’m good enough by others is not going to be enough if I can’t see it myself. When I have a bad day now I write down 3 things I like about myself. It’s tacky and embarrassing but surprisingly uplifting. I no longer pick things I have that other girls don’t. I only focus on myself and what I see when I look in the mirror. And when the ghost negative thoughts come creeping in I tell myself that I’m better than obsessing over some girl I’ve barely met and I divert my attention away.

I guess you can say my New Year’s Resolution is simple- To learn to love myself. And I hope you’re inspired to do the same.

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Stop making college kids guilty for not having too much fun

When you first enter college you are more than inclined to believe that ahead awaits one of the most exciting times of your life. I was one of those people. I was an extrovert in high school and loved interacting with people every single day. I had built up a solid group of friends so I was expecting to enter college with people swarming my way and telling me how wonderful I am. I was convinced I would be best friends with my roommate, too. So you can understand my devastation when my roommate decided to sleep in a hotel with her mom for the entire first week and leave me by myself in the room (Not because I am a monster or crazy but because she’s an international student and wouldn’t see her mom until Christmas). So, I did the next best thing. I went scouting into my neighbor’s room. The door was open and there were four girls in there who were as sweet as can be. Three of them were my actual neighbors and the other was just visiting. They were all super sweet and sitting on the floor they were deliberating going out to a club that night. They invited me along and (of course) I said I’d go! Here was the perfect opportunity to make my college expectations come to fruition. Most of the girls were under 18 however so they quickly decided against the club scene and we all went to hang out at another floor. I was there physically but I hardly contributed to the conversation since when Im in a room full of big personalities I tend to close up and let myself disappear. Months went by and these girls went their separate ways. In fact, two of those who were my neighbors and didn’t move out ended up not even being courteous enough to say hello whenever we crossed paths.

My roomate who was supposed to be my best friend ended up having a completely different personality than mine. She hardly ever returned to the room and was always on the move doing thing with her friends. So, when I stayed in on Thursday or Friday nights I’d feel like quite literally the biggest loser. There was an entire world of adventures out in this college world and I was home watching movies with my boyfriend. Granted, by the end of freshman year I began to realize I prioritize different things and maybe I don’t need to go out, socialize and drink to feel happy.

I feel appalled and even disappointed that the same girl who loved spending so much time around her friends would much rather stay in the dorm and type this instead of trying to find anyone who is available to hang out. But you know what? I’m exhausted. After a day in class and then work I’m usually all “people”-d out and I just want to lay in my bed like a loser instead of putting forth the effort to dress up and go out. I don’t want to feel guilty for wasting away my youth because really wouldn’t my youth be more wasted if I was constantly doing things that didnt expand my mind? I thought so.

So, every time I see adults posting about how college was the greatest, wildest time of their life I want to tell them to stop. Stop building this illusion that college is this non-stop party because it’s not. It comes with stress, responsibility and yes, sometimes loneliness. So next time you want to ask a kid if college is a blast do so cautiously because it’s not for all of us. For some of us it’s still primarily about school. And not because I’m a big loser who can’t find anyone to take me to a party but because I’ve chosen to prioritize other things. And I refuse to feel guilty about it anymore.

 

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The Relationship safe zone

Two years ago I developed this theory of a relationship safe zone which would help me relax and open up. I had been with my boyfriend for six months and he would open up to me immensely during that time. I knew everything about his childhood, his fears his passions all the things you’d want to know about the person you’re in love with. He, on the other hand, had to constantly pester me about opening up. I would come up with a fraction about my life and then share it but it never felt like I was sharing deep parts about myself. I was so afraid of being vulnerable because how fleeting people tend to be. One moment they’re there listening to your deepest thoughts and the next you’re not speaking to each other. So I told myself that I had to be vulnerable if I wanted to be happy. I convinced myself that after a really long time you cross the relationship safe zone and your chances of breaking up decrease significantly. I told myself after 6 months of being together and knowing each other you’re probably be together for a while! So I opened up. I don’t remember how much but I let my guard down. I talked about things I’m passionate about and my childhood as much as I could. But lo and behold after our one year anniversary my boyfriend decided he couldn’t put up with my temper and gave me ultimates I couldn’t and wouldn’t stand for. So I sent him on his way.
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I ended the relationship safe zone and my relationship.Most importantly I realized there is no such a thing as a relationship safe zone. Relationships don’t have predisposed expiration dates, they just expire when you least expect it.
Two years later the person who knew everything about me and who I was so in love with isn’t there. He is a new person with some questionable interests and hobbies and from what I hear an inability to be vulnerable. And I’m still the same. I cannot ask for help from my partner. I cannot tell him when I’m sad or having problems. For whatever reason I refuse to let my guard down. And some say it’s a matter of a partner and when I meet the right person I’ll be a big bag of mush. But as of now I’m still waiting for someone to wear me down. Or open me up. Or whatever other cliche phrase you prefer. For now I’ll just thank those who are vulnerable without effort (like my ex) and admire them for letting me see the deepest parts of them.
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A piece of unwanted advice

When I was at a school conference a few years back this girl broke down and started to talk about her insecurities. One quote she shared was powerful and stays with me to this day: ‘If you treated your friends the way you treat yourself would they still be your friends?’ We’re often so caught up in helping uplift our friends and relatives that we neglect the most important person: us. I don’t know why it is seen as weird to talk yourself up. I think confident people are beautiful so as I have (willingly) lost two of my beat friends who didnt really contribute that much to picking me up I have vowed to treat myself as I’d treat my friends. When I’m doubting myself I’ll remember that anyone not smart enough to see I’m wonderful is not worth my time. From now on I’ll be selfish and take the advice I’d give other people. And I invite you to do the same.

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Why I don’t like to frat party

College is a wild place, full of hard choices. One of those for me has always been the inevitable question of integrity vs adrenaline. When I get bored on a Friday I always think that I should be out because what’s college if not a giant party? My otherwise quiet floor decided to one Friday go out and check out the party scene. First, ten of us along with about 60 other kids lined up on the sidewalk awaiting a ride. Then girls one by one began to try to flirt their way into a ride and boys began doing the bros favors in hope of getting to the party. We didnt really do any of that. Some guy noticed us and waved us up but after a mishap we were left without a ride and an in at the party. A girl from my floor noticed my dress and casually eyeing me said ‘We should have pushed you up front. If only your dress was opened up a little more we’d be there by now’. Absolutely startled I just laughed it up but began realizing how much I didn’t want to get into the party. Once I finally got into one it was fine: drinks dancing friends but the process itself is degrading. Girls dress down (seriously) as much as they can in hopes they’ll be noticed and allowed in. The frat bros on the other hand have all the power of choosing which ones are worthy of letting in (and hooking up with) and which ones are not. I have friends in frats and they are by far the sweetest guys I know but as institutions frats are harmful to girls everywhere & perpetuate the control of women though in a subtle way. I don’t want to have to flirt my way into a party or have my body get me in. Neither I or the other girls going to parties are going to entertain the frat bros. We’re going to have fun and ‘live it up’ or whatever. In state schools there is even instated RATIOS of women to men entering a party. So if you’re a guy you must have 4 girls with you to enter for example. As if being a guy makes you less valuable or fun and you don’t deserve to enter. You don’t bring anything to the party unless you’re a woman who can be hit on and objectified. The whole process is crazy. So I beg you next time you’re going out think a little and ask yourself just how badly do you want that free beer?

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