Lessons of Vulnerability

As March begins, snow showers (hopefully) turn to rain showers and flowers begin to bloom; spring has officially begun. The new season signifies a time for rebirth in nature. It is important to us to take this time to look at ourselves critically and evaluate where we are in life.

For me, I am nearing the end of my time in high school and making tough decisions about my future. Others are preparing for standardized tests or juggling various responsibilities and extra curricular activities. Regardless, our day-to-day life can often be overwhelming, and this stress is unhealthy.

When faced with what seems to be an impossible list of tasks, it is easy to mentally “shut-down” and not know where to start. These emotions can spiral into something bigger and scarier. Feelings of hopelessness and anxiety are not uncommon today. These feelings must be addressed— even when it feels easier to simply ignore them. Being vulnerable is essential. While it is increasingly difficult, all of us have to find a support system that they can rely on. This can be friends, teachers, family members, or any other trusted people. We have to have open and clear communication.

Reaching out for help is often stigmatized in our society. We don’t want to come off as weak or inferior. Everyone wants to be the best. However, it is important to recognize how much strength it takes to admit a weakness and ask for assistance. In order to counteract this stigma, it is our responsibility as leaders to begin open dialogues between friends or family members. By checking in on each other regularly, it isn’t seen as scary to ask for help. As leaders, we have to swallow our pride and reach out; we’re not always perfect.

As an editor of my school’s newspaper, I have learned the importance of vulnerability first hand. When I joined the staff of our school newspaper, The Tower, as a sophomore I avoided writing the hard-hitting pieces because I was too scared to rock the boat. I felt hopeless and overwhelmed. Then, in 2017, amid a wave of horrific mass shootings and a barrage of painful headlines, I mustered up the courage to write something that mattered to me. I wrote about feeling the need to apologize when any brown person committed an act of terror, a concept foreign to some of my peers. I wrote about racial profiling, overt and covert, and how some headlines and labels systematically dehumanize specific races and cultures. 

Writing this opinion column made me uncomfortable, but I felt an obligation. If I didn’t write it, no one would. After the article was published, I was surprised by the support I received from the newspaper staff, my friends, and the community. My classmates thanked me for highlighting an issue they had never considered, and my family praised me for raising an issue that goes unaddressed. This highlighted the power of open and uncensored dialogue.

It isn’t necessary for everyone to publish a column to explain their viewpoints. Having an honest conversation with a friend or family member works just as well. No one should feel like their opinions are a burden on others. Take time out of your day to focus on yourself and evaluate your needs— it will help you in the long run.