I just watched two very powerful TED talks in my house course, which I would absolutely recommend to people in future semesters if you're looking to take a really chill course with a blurred line between work and self and world reflection. The first was the Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown. And I rant.

Vulnerability, even though I still can't completely wrap my head around it's personal meaning to me, after our class discussion resonates with me most as a two fold definition. There's one way of being vulnerable in that you don't worry what other people think about you and allow yourself to take the risk that what you are telling them is something that they won't judge you about. You find joy when they don't but you still allow yourself to take the risk that they will. The other vulnerability is deeper; it is struggling with letting your inner thoughts and feelings be shared with others. This one is less about outward action and "putting yourself out there" and more about letting others see inside of you. You find joy in having others understand and accept a I think that I struggle more with the first of these and I attribute that partly to the fact that I am more introverted than extroverted on that spectrum. We all have trouble being vulnerable in one way or another or both. We can be vulnerable to some people in some ways and other ways to others. But vulnerability is important. Allowing ourselves to create dependencies or open up to others is the one of the greatest ways to create connections with them. Being vulnerable means letting yourself, despite the fear you may feel, open up to the risk of a negative outcome but, if you think about it, also to the risk of a positive outcome. I am afraid that if this person knows this side of me, they will no longer want to be friends with me. I am afraid that if I tell him that I love him, he won't say it back. I am afraid that if I trust them to take care of me when I get sick, they will let me down. I am afraid that if I allow myself to become dependent on him, he will inevitably purposely or accidentally hurt me. These are things that we all think and do or don't do at the risk of becoming vulnerable. 

And the sad thing is that allowing yourself to become vulnerable to someone, when it goes the right way, can have the most wonderful effects and make you happier than you ever thought you could be. But the chance that things could also go wrong are so prevalent that we stigmatize vulnerability solely on that front. We hide ourselves because of fear. Vulnerability feels like weakness, and no one likes feeling like you've given a part of yourself to another without the certainty of receiving something back. And I wondered, do we allow ourselves to become vulnerable gradually over long periods of time, or all at once? Which do we prefer? We romanticize the idea of falling in love to develop gradually but hit all at once, but falling in love has its own sense of vulnerability that develops differently for everyone. Personally, I feel it's a gradual process, because my feelings come more from the conversations I've had and the judgments I've made about the other person than arbitrary feelings that have arisen from nowhere. And I don't think vulnerability is something that is a two way street. There don't need to be two people involved. Vulnerability can be letting feelings that you've kept suppressed come to the surface and allowing them to govern your decisions. I think it's possible to allow yourself to become vulnerable to your own self.

My own experience in vulnerability: not nearly enough for me to be making any sort of claim or giving any sort of advice, but enough to be making my own speculations. I like to think that the only people I am completely vulnerable to is my immediate family. That is, my sister, my dad, my mom. I hold in tears all the time at Duke because even though your close friends say that they'll be there for you, you never really know when that turns from being just words to actually true. When I go home, I let myself cry. I let myself loose of all inhibitions and feel like I've dumped out water that had been collecting in a bucket for weeks. But this isn't because I talk through things that I need to with my family or anything; they probably know a lot less about my life than my friends do. But just knowing that they are there is enough, knowing that whatever happens to me in that moment, they will take care of me. That sort of dependency is something that I will always be grateful for. Now, has this developed yet at Duke or ever with anyone else? No, not completely. I think I'm getting there with some people, but we're all always so busy, we have our own things to do, and our lives aren't dedicated to each other. It's hard to find room for vulnerability there. But even if I am getting close to complete vulnerability, there are still other things holding me back, primarily my parents telling me not to. You can't depend on your friends, only on your family, they say. Fine, yes, I am starting to see that and understand that a lot more than I used to, but there are select friends I do trust a lot. I think I will get there someday with them, but only time and effort will tell.

Moving on. The second talk we watched was called Everyday leadership by Drew Dudley. He introduces the idea that we have all changed or affected someone's life in some way, a lot of times without realizing or knowing it. Why haven't we told these people what they've done for us? Showing gratitude is not only a great way to make others happier, but also yourself. Ask SoulPancake. If leadership is thought of less as a high position that you must reach and more as being able to make a difference for someone, just one person. And tell those people that they've done that for you because it makes a difference. Someone has definitely had an impact on your life that you might not realize is as big as it is, so just think about it harder and let them know when you figure it out. (:

All right. That's enough for today. Peace out homies.

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