Vulnerability 8,000 Miles From Home

Intuition”: We find ourselves living within a vulnerable world. Many humans simply struggle with the fact that by embracing vulnerability, you are able to find the “birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.” We so frequently shy away from being able to talk about our vulnerabilities as we are trained to think that these lessen our character’s strength and courage, but in reality, when you face your vulnerability head on you are likely to stumble on a moment of acceptance and clarity.

Denial”: I had never lived an experience in which I felt truly vulnerable and scared for what lied ahead of me, until I decided to study abroad. And even before leaving I had always thought that my experience in traveling abroad I would never feel vulnerable when living and attending classes abroad. It was not until I sat in my orientation in Byron Bay that I would begin to become worried about the potential to feeling homesick and lost.

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Anger”: In this moment I immediately shut down and began to feel as though accepting this vulnerability of being homesick and feeling lost would make me lesser. Flash forward two or three weeks, and I found myself sitting on a bench in Sydney Harbour wondering why I was feeling down and out. As I took the time to reflect on my emotions, I realised I was “numbing” all of my emotions much like Brene Brown suggested in her TedTalk. I had gone to Australia knowing that this was a true risk, I put my whole being on the line, and was so set on ensuring that I was never less than perfect that it had clouded my judgement on what the experience of studying abroad was about. In my mind I was scared to admit that I was homesick and was missing my family, and my friends, and everything that I had ever known and this repression of my emotions only added to my sentiments of feeling lost in a completely unknown land.

Accountability”: The following afternoon I met with one of my closest friends that was in Australia with me in the city to have drinks and just catch up as she was studying at another university. She quickly became aware of the fact that I was not acting like myself, and began to probe me with questions of what was wrong. I was ashamed and nervous to admit to the vulnerabilities I was facing, but much like The Vulnerability Trip suggests, I realised that by crutching on my inability to accept my vulnerabilities was only preventing me to truly enjoying my time abroad. In fact, most people who study abroad face the vulnerabilities I faced and are a necessary piece of the study abroad experience.

Hope”: In the weeks following this lunch, I began to embrace this “weakness,” and quickly the emotions that swirled through my head as a response to being abroad turned positive. All the negative emotions that existed in the weeks prior were replaced, and I began to fall in love with my time abroad. Embracing this feeling of vulnerability when you’re living on literally the opposite side of the word is a hard pill to swallow. But once swallowed, you are shown a more true and real version of yourself. We deny our vulnerabilities as a method of maintaining a shield of perfection around us, but no one on this earth is perfect. No one.

Redemption”: Through embracing my vulnerabilities while abroad, I learned that embracing this feeling of uncertainty and vulnerability can only make us more compassionate and more respectful humans as we all are plagued by vulnerability in our own light. Looking back on my time abroad, by being faced for the first time by a feeling of vulnerability I grew up about 5 years in the period of 6 months. As suggested by The Empowerment of Vulnerability, studying abroad may seem so perfect from the outside, but in reality there is a lot of nitty gritty change that happens internally that leaves you forever changed. I was able to shed light on a deeper level of myself; I was able to accept that we are all plagued by such a deep emotion. In the end, you realise that accepting vulnerability you are able to change the “way you live, you love, and the way you exist.

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2 thoughts on “Vulnerability 8,000 Miles From Home

  1. Hi Tom! I really enjoyed reading this post, so thank you for sharing your story. I am considering studying abroad for the fall of next year and am also considering Australia as well. I am anxious that the feelings and emotions that you faced while you were abroad, will be the same that I encounter. Being that far away must have been so hard, but you are lucky to have known a friend that close to help you through what you were feeling.

  2. Reading your post made me excited and scared all at the same time! I’m planning on studying abroad next semester in London. Right now, I have so many mixed feelings. I’ve always wanted to study abroad and can’t believe the time has actually come. One of my good friends will be with me in London, and so I think that will add a ton of extra comfort to the whole experience. I’m glad you ended up loving your time in Australia!

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