Dancing with fears — Vulnerability

Alex Moody

What scares you the most? What has living in the shadow of its avoidance taught you?

I’m afraid of stray dogs; of phone calls; of dying a slow and painful death; of living a slow and painful life; of aggressive drunks that scream threats at me when I ignore their slurs as I walk a dark alley on my way home; cockroaches that creep suddenly from under furniture; that weird pain I sometimes get in my legs that I neglect; of what people who think essays are lame think of my writing essays; of what essay readers think about mine; becoming stuck; disappointing the people I love; losing my independence to physical ailment; public ridicule; public anything; failing.

None of these are what scares me the most though. They’re all things I have to manage on a day-to-day basis. They’re all things that scare me, yet they’re not what scares me the most.

What scares me the most, is being vulnerable.

Giving up on my trusted force-filed of carefully rehearsed meh-ness and general disdain, and letting someone see into my core — it’s not that I lie to people, over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that lying is just not worth the immense effort, but I do hide. I shy away from anything remotely exposing or emotion-driven, I retreat into a fortress of logic and cynical humor, which I obstinately refuse to come out of.

I’m scared to shreds of being vulnerable. Of showing the most seemingly-harmless traces of genuine humanity, of saying anything that could effectively distinguish me from a drone. Of allowing someone to have access to the most intimate and efficient ways of hurting me, of willingly handing myself out to be abandoned. Why risk all that, when I can just dodge any chance of ever putting myself in the position to begin with?

How can my fear of vulnerability rank above any other, which effectively positions it above my fear of death, brain cancer, and even phone calls?

I can hope for a life without brain cancer; I can own a smartphone even though I haven’t willingly made a phone-call since I once called my Mom in 2008 while I was away on vacation. But I cannot have rewarding human interaction without submitting to vulnerability. Without the risk of someone taking a look at my most visceral self and deeming it unworthy or broken.

Theoretically, the idea of acceptance associated to vulnerability is freeing and rewarding, it very well may be one of the best things to experience in life. I have known you, naked and devoid of any social convention to hide behind, and I think you’re alright. Yet that fear that they might not be okay with it, of the ensuing ridicule, it’s so paralyzing, and that potential for losing some of your hard-earned self-worth over someone’s rejection of your structure so overwhelming, that I’d often rather just stick to my safe zone. Queue cynical, self-depreciating joke to distract you from what really matters to me as a person.

To allow yourself to be vulnerable in front of someone is to say `I willingly give you the power to hurt me`. In effect, it’s giving them the sharpened knife, and trying to trust that they won’t stab you. Some of them will. And that will make it furthermore difficult to trust in the future. Yet, some of them won’t, and that’s how authentic friendship is built, that’s how genuine connection happens, that’s how people come to trust and understand each other.

Until I’ve given you the ability to hurt me, you can’t prove that you wouldn’t.

What scares you the most?


Like my rambling? Show me some love. I’m new here, been lurking for ages, afraid to get past the `new here` stage. I love feedback, but please be constructive.

Alex Moody

Written by

Morality and ethics obsessed secular thinker. Anxiety-nerd fascinated by the human experience. Crazy Cat Lady.

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