I think about the density of New York City: the hundreds of people I walk past each day, the close strangers I sit next to on the subway, the friendly eye contact I make with people. I wonder if that same friendliness is exchanged? With a quick glance, people make assumptions and within minutes, I become a piece of commentary. Recently I have witnessed the ignorance that has been held captive in the minds of the people around us. I say captive because there is a whole social psychology that makes people feel like they are a part of something, whether they are public or private about their opinions. The truth of the matter is: we are afraid of opposition and we strive to express ourselves.
When do we share? When do we finally speak up?
We share when our life or our dignity is at stake.
We share to potentially change someone’s opinion.
We share to make ourselves feel better.
Most of the time, we share when someone else shares first.
As a young adult in this society, I feel the sense of acceptance and openness for new ideas and change among my peers, but recently, I’ve received a reality check that leaves me with the question: how many steps we have taken aimlessly? Whether our steps are quick or slow, these steps don’t mean anything without the right direction. Without the right mindset or goal, we will continue to be held captive. Always stuck in the past or living for an idea of the future, when the present is in turmoil. With no direction, progress will just be another intangible thing and we will continue to be conformists in a world filled with ignorance.
I believe our mind is our most powerful force. It can break us down despite our physical strength, then give us all the encouragement we need to be okay again. Humans are not static creatures: our bodies and our minds are never quite at rest. Even in our sleep we are formulating thoughts and images. Our brains are albums that capture moments of joy and darkness in our lives and that is a beautiful thing, but we live in a world that is not at peace. Our defenses must always remain up because all ideas and personal expressions are not nurtured. It’s hard to feel safe when we don’t know what is on the minds of others. We live in a world where harm is not only physical and where we have to worry about captivity: in any shape, way or form.
Your mindset and emotions are on the same wavelength as your personality and behavior. In my pursuit to live fully present, I’ve learned that recognizing emotion is a primary aspect. I can easily put my emotions aside and be objective, but you can just as easily call that “taking the easy way out”. So, I had to challenge myself and more importantly challenge my emotions. I believe that everyone is sensitive, but things don’t affect people in the same ways. Everyone has the ability to be vulnerable, but once again, things don’t affect people in the same ways. What’s the most difficult emotion you’ve experienced? Some may say it’s pain, but others may say its joy. People are afraid of feeling pain and rejection, so they just avoid it altogether. We can try to escape loss, failure and confusion, but these things are embedded into our lives.
We can try to protect our hearts and feelings, but if we tiptoe around every situation in our lives, we’ll never learn to adapt to change. Any relief will only be temporary. I want to have stories and countless adventures and more importantly, I want to cultivate my wisdom. In order to be courageous and allow myself to flourish, I had to get out of my comfort zone. I needed to be vulnerable. Whether it was by traveling to new cities with friends, going to a concert alone or by taking on leadership positions, I challenged myself. I said yes a lot. Someone who inspires me is social scientist and theory researcher, Brené Brown. She mentions that many people move through life attempting to disown difficult stories so they appear more acceptable.
Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is a weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness…”
– Daring Greatly
Someone asks us how we are doing and we say, “I’m fine” and leave no substance. We want be accepted and understood, but we answer simple questions with dry words. It has become socially acceptable to hide our true selves. You can call it self-protection, but the facets of our personalities and our minds aren’t always sharp edges. Being present means letting everything in, letting people get close to you, saying yes to things you’ve always said no to. Being vulnerable is about letting the surface crack and being okay with it. It’s not the end of the world if something breaks, vulnerability does not mean we are defenseless.