As much as I’ve emotionally prepared myself before coming to New York, I still find myself dumbfounded by the new things that unexpectedly occur each day. The transition as a graduate student is prominently different. Realistically speaking, the struggles to adapt are REAL.
While adapting, one thing I find fascinating about New York is its diverse population. I would be on one block and hear someone speaking Russian while a different person speaking French. People freely express their culture and style through their clothing attire in this city. Someone could wear a hijab and no one would give them that strange look. There are numerous cultural opportunities to engage in New York such as the food booths, international festivals, cultural towns, and countless events. Despite the variety of things to see and do in New York’s pop culture, I’ve caught myself contemplating on the word vulnerability more than ever in New York.
I led a class discussion on vulnerability recently. As I prepared the articles and video: The Power of Vulnerability for the discussion, I decided to look up the word’s definition. The word Vulnerability is defined as “capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, and I contemplated upon how that word personally played out in my life. When do I feel most vulnerable? How do I cope with vulnerability? Why is vulnerability considered as strength?
During the day, I happily stand in line anticipating to grab the latest food everyone fuss about. I happily chirp away my daily happenings to my co-worker. I show people I’m doing well through my posts on the social media… I put on this “I’m doing wonderful” mask. Yet, by the end of the night when I commute home, the truth comes out.
I prepare dinner, do late night works, and the thoughts consume my mind while stillness overwhelms me. I shove these rubbish thoughts for another day.
In a city that never sleeps, reality unfolds as time passes. In a city that is so populated, I find myself mainly in solitude. Vulnerability creeps up on me as the loneliness lingers…
The phrase from once New Yorkers resonates, “People never mean what they say or say what they mean. No one cares. You will end up becoming cold and bitter too.” Fortunately, I am not the only person to feel this way. Advertisements are posted everywhere in New York, “Why do I feel so lonely in New York? Text therapy talk.”
As we humans experience the same vulnerabilities, why is it so hard to share these vulnerabilities with others and ourselves? Why do we choose to avoid them, and in return for coping, we rather choose to close the doors on others?
Reality hits hard as I try to wrap my mind around this harsh reality and the vulnerabilities I’m forced to face. There are times when I find myself bitter and angry, but then I realized that these emotions are taking hold of my existence and my original intentions for coming here. These unpleasant emotions exist because I choose to cast my vulnerabilities aside and not accept them.Being vulnerable does put you at risk for being hurt and admitting defeat. You are forced to accept something you don’t want to see in yourself- weak and timid.
Ironically, with this harsh acceptance, courage and humility derive. We could never grasp the profound meaning of vulnerability and fully relate to anyone until we are mindful of our personal vulnerabilities. When we choose to put down our mask, we understand how God connects us as humans. We experience inner healing and obtain strength to move forward.
For the past five years, I’ve traveled to five different countries and lived in two countries. I find myself open-minded and willing to befriend with anyone who is ethnically different from me… Yet, with these phenomenal experiences at hand, I’d personally say it does not guarantee how versatile I’ll be with adapting in a new environment. To be vulnerable is a learning process.
I always feel immensely grateful when someone opens up to me simply because it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable. It’s also moving to observe how easily children laugh when they’re happy, scream when they’re upset or seeing an elderly person cry when they’re sad. They don’t filter or put barriers in their emotions, and perhaps that’s something I could learn from. By doing so, I’ll go against the tides of transformation (becoming bitter and cold). After all,these vulnerabilities beautifully and universally link us together. 🙂