Where It Started Growing up, my mom’s side of the family had one too many hardships to deal with – I knew that everything going on was very hard for my mother to take on so I never let her see how it all affected me. From a young age I always tried to be the strong one – I got that from my mom. My father is not from the US so his outlook on life and raising a family was different – affection was not something you showed frequently and time spent together as a family was rare.
For some reason I always felt that I could not let any of this affect me and if it did I did not show it. I never wanted anyone to see me feeling vulnerable because I did not want my emotions to ever be a burden for someone.
Being Vulnerable I studied abroad the spring of 2015 – I spent four incredible months on the east coast of Australia. After about a month of being there I got into a pretty bad surfing accident – I ripped a whole into my shin straight to my bone. This occurred early on in the program and I had traveled there alone, so while I had already made some amazing friends I did not want to be a burden by asking for any help or support. At first I was told it was a minor injury and that stitches would do the job – however – the next day I was rushed to the hospital because something was not right and the wound was incredibly infected. They told me that I would need to spend one night in the hospital so that they could keep me hooked up to antibiotics and fluids. One night turned into two, two nights turned into three, and on the third day they couldn’t give me any answers. By the fifth day there I was scared beyond belief. I was in a foreign country and felt completely alone and had no idea what was going on.
The doctors said it was possible I could lose my leg but they were hopeful that they would be able to find a way to fight everything going on. The pain was unbearable and the unknown gave me a crippling amount of fear. Finally, they rushed me into surgery and I thought at this point that when I woke up everything would be fixed. The first surgery was not as successful as they thought and I went in for a second. Finally, everything was coming together and on the eighth day there I was finally released to go home. But I was still alone, in a foreign country, in an unbearable amount of pain and I couldn’t walk. I tired my best to hide how hard it all was on me– but I just wasn’t able to do it all on my own – finally I broke down and called my mom and she was on the next flight out – when she walked into my apartment I broke into tears and felt the most vulnerable I had ever been in my life. This vulnerability lasted the whole month I was unable to walk.
What It Taught Me I realized then that it is okay to ask for help – that in a sense it is admirable. Being vulnerable isn’t something to be ashamed of – hiding your fears and anxieties can be crippling. I have found that you make stronger connections with those around you when you let them see the real you. The you behind the scenes, the you when things are not all going as planned, the you when you have absolutely no idea what to do. I have never looked down on anyone for being vulnerable but for some reason I had always looked down on myself for it.
That is something I do not do anymore – I embrace my flaws and the times when I need others the most. I believe that this has only made me stronger and has given me a clearer outlook on life – and for that I am forever grateful. Life is not always going to go as planned and the roadblocks in life may send you in different directions – but if you accept these challenges and embrace them to your fullest they will be some of the greatest moments in your life that help to shape and create you and your surroundings.