On Vulnerability and My Experiences
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
The past few years of my life have been eventful – to say the least. I by no means have had a harder life than anyone else, but it has been a bit different than the average adolescent tale. I often tell people how thankful I am that God doesn’t reveal our future to us – we wouldn’t be able to handle it. When I was 15, if I had known what was ahead of me, I’m afraid I would have died of a panic attack on the spot.
The two things that have weighed most heavily on my heart these past few years have been my struggle with depression and the acceptance of my sexuality. I feel like I could write a book on both these topics, but then I realize 1) My experience is highly subjective 2) I have already written it – it’s called my journal, and 3) I don’t (and doubt I’ll ever) have a stone solid grasp of either topic. All I know is how they have affected my life. The number of nights I’ve spent belching words onto my journals pages have been too numerous to count. It is how I process things – that, and talking through it with my friends. Bless their souls, my friends have endured countless hours of me spewing my frustrations about everything and anything. “I just don’t get it,” I must have said a thousand times if I said it once.
I say all this to touch on a topic that I have thought a lot about during this period of my life – vulnerability. It is a practice that I have grown to value in the highest regard. I used to abhor vulnerability, but now I’m only scared of it. Because it’s a scary thing! Opening up to someone – saying, “These are my scars. I’m sure I’ll have new ones, and old ones will open up the same. Will you still love me?” Through vulnerability I have found sanctuary in acceptance and kindness.
I distinctly remember the first time I consciously chose to be vulnerable and open up to one of my guy friends about my sexuality. I swear I literally almost peed my pants (okay, not literally, but……okay yeah actually literally) It was one of the first times that I made the choice to cast my fear aside and seek refuge in friendship. We were sitting in a booth in Gillies (a sub-section of the cafeteria at my college) It was just me, him, and his girlfriend – at that moment no one else in the world existed, I was terrified. And you know what he said to me?
“I need you to know, Ethan, that this changes absolutely nothing about our friendship.”
I could have started sobbing, except for the fact that I was still in utter shock that I had told him. This simple phrase changed my life – and to this day I value this guy as one of the best friends I have ever had. He’ll have to kill me before we lose contact. It is one of those moments I think back on and realize I turned a corner in my life.
So, very slowly and on my own terms, I started opening up to people about what I’ve been dealing with – not just my sexuality, but also my depression (which I find to be the more uncomfortable of the two topics, to be completely honest. There is a stigma that comes along with depression, but that is a whole other post). I won’t put my life story on the internet – it doesn’t feel right, but now I am happy to talk about it with anyone who is willing to give the time. I figure if someone actually wants to devote a part of their day to hearing my story, it is a kindness – it’s saying, “I want to know what makes you who you are…”
Of course, sometimes I must admit to being too vulnerable. If someone asks me, “How are you doing?” and we’re not just walking by each other, I will actually tell them how I am doing. I forget that some people are just being kind and don’t have any vested interest – so if you’re one of those people I’ve suddenly spilled my jumbled mess of feelings to – I sincerely apologize. I’m weird- I know.
One thing I pray is that God can somehow use this growing confidence in truth I have to help others. Aside from personal growth, one of the reasons I try to be so open about my experiences is so that if they want to open up (maybe for the first or millionth time) I am most willing and can hopefully empathize.
In my own experience thus far I’d give vulnerability a five star review for opening up relationships that I will be thankful for the rest of my life.
So, this is my blog. I’m going to write a lot about my life. I imagine I’ll talk a lot about my “coming out” experiences, faith, problems, questions, and of course movies. It’s a mess, but so am I.
Thanks for reading – I hope I didn’t waste your time.