By Marian Haile
The Strength in Vulnerability
Vulnerability willingness to show emotion or to allow one’s weakness to be seen or known; willingness to risk being hurt or attacked
The representation of the strong Black woman has been awe-inspiring. The archetypal image has been an exhausting and unrealistic standard for many of us (as well as the women before us) and has come at the expense of our mental health and skewed image of what it means to be a leader. Being resilient and strong is just the tip of the iceberg of a slew of trauma and expectations rooted in misogynoir (misogyny+ anti-black racism). It can even contribute to toxic black femininity. Black women everywhere have the similar experience of not having the appropriate framework to express emotions, pain, guilt, concern, etc., in relation to a culture overrepresented by the overt racism, death, and struggles of their male counterparts.
There is no strength in resilience without strength in vulnerability. Vulnerability seeks to unlearn what it means to be weak and shameful in the face of finally being seen. Bringing things up doesn’t halt your life; it furthers a larger conversation and promises healthy relationships and healthy future generations to come. Trauma in pregnancy, relationships, family, etc., happens to Black women at higher rates, and it is a right to be able to speak on your truth. The safe spaces Black women have cultivated for the last hundreds of years through literature, beauty shops, radio, music, blogging, Black therapy, YouTube commentary, community centers surrounding Black women issues, and the Internet as a whole has opened doors to continue to break the toxic cycle and normalize being vulnerable, so we aren’t alone.
Being a Black femme superhuman is an image of a Black woman misunderstood and a weapon used against many of us to silence our voices and dehumanize us. What makes us leaders is knowing the self, feeling connected, being humanized, being seen, softness, compassion, and possessing the ability to trust others. And that all begins with vulnerability.
What it Means to Be Open
Openness the quality of being receptive to new ideas, opinions, or arguments; open-mindedness; an unreserved, candid, or frank manner
Growing up, religion has been a primary source of certainty and law in my household, so much so that faith was the cure to ailments and emotions. However, it wasn’t until I began questioning everything that I realized that a culture surrounding religion convinced the women in my family that being pious meant never speaking up and going with the status quo.
To be vulnerable, you have to be open to new ideas, opinions, and research. To be open to the world of possibilities. Nobody is perfect, and nothing internal is black and white, so why weaponize faith to make unique decisions for the entirety of people? Faith is an intimate guide that shouldn’t be masquerading as an end-all-be-all rule to bring shame upon others.
Being open means challenging what you believe in to see what works for you, thus encouraging growth, avoiding exploitations, being positive, and is committed to being authentic. However, this also means realizing everything is uncertain and taking risks. You might not get with the person you’ve always dreamed of right away, but maybe monogamy/American partners/men may not be your thing, sis. Self-exploration comes with risk, but taking risks and reaching your worthwhile goal will be your rebirth and your introduction to inner peace and optimism.
When You Overshare…Worthiness & Who to Trust
Overshare to disclose too much (personal information) or too many (details) about oneself
Having trust issues will always be more common than we think, especially when we accidentally overshare about our personal lives and isolating for the next 48 hours because we feel guilty about what was said. Whether it’s a post (or rather several posts) on social media or we get caught up speaking for too long with someone we feel oddly comfortable with for three hours, for everyone, oversharing is inevitable. This tends to occur when our vulnerability runs amuck and has no boundaries.
As a society, we often talk about how our rough childhoods and upbringing have made us tougher and stronger. However, the tough and rough lifestyle can make us more sensitive or even narcissistic in coping with our trauma, leading to an oversharing syndrome. You need to be vulnerable with the right people and develop boundaries with those around you.
To do this, you need to find people you can trust. Not everyone is entitled to your story, so the people we choose to enter our lives and be vulnerable with are crucial. You instinctually know that frenemies, certain family members, and social media followers aren’t the people to confide. Instead, seek out a therapist, research different types of therapy, healing centers, join faith-based groups, etc. You can take a creative route and watch the pour of support you receive as a fulfilling way of being vulnerable. This will help distribute your energy towards numerous options in your life instead of relying on strangers or using a sole individual as a personal therapist to the ongoing issues you face in life. You have to respect others’ boundaries too.
Lastly, know your worth. You are a worthy Black woman. You are worthy; you are worthy; you are worthy. A million times over. To not overshare and successfully create boundaries, it is paramount that you consistently find ways to acknowledge your worth. I think it can be addicting to constantly entertain platforms, ideas, and people who are committed to misunderstanding you and tear you down to prove them otherwise.
On the other hand, groups and people aren’t propagating unapologetic authenticity to help you capture a genuine sense of self. Put more effort in championing yourself, self-preservation, having honest conversations, cultivating healthy positivity, and self-exploration. This is the only way you’ll trust the process and appreciate everything in your path.
Marian Haile is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. A literature graduate, she believes that storytelling and analyzing history can assist in developing an understanding of those around us and ourselves. You can follow her Instagram @marianhaile.