Moving into the american culture at an age that, in my homeland, was considered to be the entrance to womanhood was a shock to my system. I was fifteen and hopeful, fifteen and bright eyed–and naive. The cultural rug, if you will, that I had known my whole life pulled out from under me. Mexico is a place where men cry, families are as boisterous about lunch as they are a birthday party, women walk about with interlocked arms, men serenade the women they love and you kiss strangers in the cheeks when you meet.
My friends have always said it, that I “feel things too deeply” sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a way that is devastating. I have half joked that “I’m latina, of course I feel things too deeply!” but more than cultural warmth there is something about me that has always had a sensibility to emotions, to circumstances, to connection… yet I have let the culture tell me that it’s not ok to feel SO deeply, maybe feel a little bit less, tame the beast.
My friend Jana, recently said it better “you are a hard-wired romantic, it’s who you are,” she said “but it is also something I’ve admired about you–because you feel so deeply, you also experience life so fully in all its joy and its pain”.
I am just a girl, a broken human with dreams, and I have seen my vulnerability often as a weakness, although a few times, with very few people I have been allowed to experience it as realness…. honesty. I fall together, I fall apart, I break and I heal.
Lately, I have been running in the early mornings with the summer heat and all, and because I’m a grown up–haha– I now listen to NPR TED talks. So I run, and I listen to some of the most brilliant minds around the world talk about courage and love and innovation and creativity. It’s nerdy, but such an inspiring time for me each morning. One of my recent favorites, was one on making mistakes, and speaking on Vulnerability. . . (by Brene Brown, look it up and listen to the whole thing you won’t regret it)
To be wholehearted, we need to have the courage to be imperfect
And speaking of courage, what does it even mean?
Etymologically, the word stems from variations of the word for heart– who knew?: “from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) “heart, innermost feelings; temper,” from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart,” from PIE root *kerd- (1) “heart” (see heart (n.)) which remains a common metaphor for inner strength. ”
So, then…” to live with courage, means telling your story with your whole heart.” To be whole-hearted, per se, you also need compassion and connection, you need vulnerability –the very thing I’ve been trying to get away from all these years. But, how can I be compassionate if there is not a time when I have allowed myself the kindness to fully feel and experience my own circumstances?
Giving myself the grace to go through highs and lows alike, to be ok and to be dismantled, teaches me that others need that kindness and it teaches me how to give it. Letting go who I think I should be, to be who I really am is the human struggle because to be seen as I am, is a frightening thing, “what if that’s not good enough? what if that makes me unworthy of connection?” When I can embrace my imperfect life, my imperfect self and be authentic, only then can connection flourish.
Embracing my vulnerability as something that makes me beautiful–and yes, complicated–also gives me strength to face each day in all its messiness. The necessity of vulnerability is neither a comfortable pillow, nor an excruciating torture chamber… it is complex, it is risky ( but what worthy thing in life isn’t?). It is the gateway to the full life I want.
So if to be vulnerable is to be real and to be real, is to be alive, I don’t want to live any other way. Letting my walls down despite the hurt, practicing gratefulness, owning my circumstances, saying I love you first, falling apart, falling together, giving the benefit of the doubt, laughing and crying and everything in between, taking a risk in a relationship that may not work out, extending forgiveness. I don’t want to pretend my actions don’t affect those around me, they do, for better or for worse.
If it is in the broken-ness that we see through to not only each other, but also see through to God, I can only be thankful for the way I am made. I can only say that even as a work in progress, as fluid art work, as an unfinished song . . . I am enough.