I am very comfortable with being vulnerable. As an outspoken bisexual Christian young woman, who also suffers from a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, I have had my fair share of being vulnerable, accidentally or not. From coming out stories, to opinions on faith, and being a woman in the 21st century, I am used to having to be vulnerable in order to be myself. In fact, it’s something I pride myself on, being open and honest. My friends regularly refer to me as the one in our friendship group with ‘no chill’, and I’m happy with that.
Then, recently (with the help that only a chat with a friend could provide) I realised that somehow, I had made vulnerability my shield. All the things people perceived me for being vulnerable and honest about, I was in my comfort zone talking about. My bisexuality, Christianity, femininity, mental health (and illness) are everything I wear on my sleeve, happily, and can withstand a fair amount of criticism, even if it comes in the shape of an old friend denouncing my sexuality, or being told that I can’t serve in a leadership role at my old church, because I am a woman, and a young one at that. I had made vulnerability my weapon of choice, ready at all times with an overshare, or a confession. But it didn’t feel authentic a lot of the time.
My faux vulnerability, my placebo honesty, were just the widening of my comfort zone to include those things, in a society that doesn’t seem to want to talk about any combination of those things at all. Widening my comfort zone is not a bad thing. It’s the becoming of myself that I had craved so intensely as a teenager (full disclosure; I am still a teenager, by a few weeks), it’s the bringing together of all the different parts of myself that I thought were at war with each other, only to find that they were happy to coexist, but it wasn’t vulnerability. I had been vulnerable at various points in this journey, but rehashing the same thoughts and feelings over and over to different people at different points of my journey had lost its rawness.
I don’t mean to make it sound like in order to be vulnerable, you have to be pushing the envelope constantly, and never be comfortable. Although, maybe that’s what vulnerability is to me; walking into the dark, uncomfortable parts of myself, and being honest about them. Acknowledging that they, even if I don’t like it, still make up a part of me.
Pushing the envelope is a characteristic I admire most in art, it’s why I like Kanye, and Tarantino, and Amanda Palmer. Maybe that’s why I want to live like that, never settling, always striving. To be weirder, to be smarter, to be more aware, to be funnier, these are all things I’m striving for right now. But at the end of the day, the three principles I want to live my life according to are; to have an interesting life, to live with integrity, and, possibly the most relevant for this article, to live with authenticity and honesty.