Don’t punish vulnerability
‘Dyslexic’ kids are seen as stragglers. Yes, they struggle. But they are often smart and persevering. No one acknowledges that.
A ‘multipotentialite’ is a person with multiple creative pursuits and interests. Yet, they are called ‘directionless’. Often this is by those who go ‘aww’ reading the quote — ‘All those who wander are not lost.’
Then there are the ‘vulnerable’. They let down their guard to either speak of their inherent fears or voice concern about larger issues plaguing their societies, families, communities, organisations, or nations they belong to.
But then they are subject to colourful tags. Emotional, naïve or immature, critical, rebel, liar, loudmouth, traitor among others are some of the choicest. If that doesn’t cow them, then the perpetrators behave like victims themselves. What can be worse? The perpetrators are persons in positions of power and who have been trusted.
That is when the ‘vulnerable’ is punished most severely.
That punishment is a psychological scar that may stay long enough, even if not forever. The punishment includes acts of the ‘vulnerable’ being silenced, being abandoned, being made to feel small or wrong by larger groups influenced by the clique who continue behaving as victims. The ‘vulnerable’ is forced to feel guilty to have ever opened their mouths.
Finally, vulnerability — which should be a fearless expression — retracts. It shrinks and in many cases, disappears.
Those who’ve once been vulnerable. become stone. They turn into monsters for others who try to exhibit vulnerability.
Vulnerability is an emotion fostered by trust with the strength to effect good. Don’t slap emotions. Don’t backstab trust. Don’t punish vulnerability.
The vulnerable are not weak. Just like the dyslexic aren’t laggards. Just like the ‘multipotentialies’ aren’t lazy nor lost.
Personal addendum: I still haven’t come to terms with how I was treated for being vulnerable. I swing between thoughts — where I go on guilt-trips to have had expectations, and reasonings — where I feel like pinpointing folks who let me down. Sometimes, I think I need closure. Sometimes, I think a talk can help. But essentially, almost always, I recoil and wallow in memories. I can’t bring myself to blaming anyone but myself. I feel it was my choice to trust people who chose to push me down and walk away.
I try to convince myself — “No one abandoned you. They were only saving themselves.” I tell myself that they were not being selfish. Rather I was being foolish. But even as I try this psychological manipulation to find peace, deep within I know that ‘vulnerability should not be punished’. As a brand practitioner, I know that businesses and brands can be places of safety for people, and those that can create larger impact. So when I am at this junction where I can become heartless and let go of my beliefs due to my experiences, it is scary. It is confusing.
I hope, one day, the pendulum of thoughts in my head will stop. Or maybe, it won’t; I will.
In the meanwhile, the above just had to be penned.