The Vulnerability Contest

In the same way that ‘authenticity’ became a buzz word in circles of personal growth, so now has the word ‘vulnerability’. At it’s center, I have no problem with this. They are in fact buzzwords because something in society is calling for the essence of these things. At the edges however, both words tend to manifest annoyingly.

As the endeavour to be authentic and vulnerable becomes collectively conscious, the ego inevitably entangles itself into this mission. It is an arms race to wield the most authentic and most vulnerable weapons. Now we have people taking off their shirts and sharing stories of how they crapped their pants at their sister’s wedding.

How spontaneously uninhibited can I be? As if authenticity is the total absence of any pre-frontal cognition.

Vulnerability in particular has become something people like to do from a soap box. It’s as if points are being awarded for how deep of an insecurity one can muster up and share haphazardly into the world. The rougher and messier the better – it must be authentic if it’s unedited. Double points!

The irony does not escape me that vulnerability has become a kind of self-deprecating self-aggrandisement.

“Look how insecure I am! Aren’t I great?”

I posit that the vulnerability contest, while appearing to strengthen one through public atonement, actually feeds the shadow that drives participation.

Most of all it is a cry for attention, which totally misses the point.

I know this when I cry to my wife for her to accept my apology for something stupid I said or did. She can see the needy underlying intention before even I can.

A truly vulnerable moment with her is nothing that happens from a soap box. In fact, it happens much more like a crucifixion, where I volunteer myself to death. It is my willingness to die – in and with my story – that is true vulnerability. She can see this too.

Maybe I’m learning from her, because I see a lot of soap box vulnerability out there. And I feel pretty much the same way about it as she does.

Which can be summed up in a few words…

“Oh, shut up.”