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Yellow Wall

All boys got was ‘Be a man'

Updated: May 15, 2023

I grew up knowing that to be a man was synonymous with confidence and strength. I was baffled the first time I heard a man talk about having low self esteem. In retrospect as a woman, I am baffled by the strength of men to show up everyday in a world that doesn't allow weakness. I don’t know what I would do if the only emotion that I am allowed to feel is anger. I am in awe of every man who has ever walked on earth and have even more respect for men who choose to defy this expectation. Men who choose to be vulnerable, to feel and to share. I asked men in life what vulnerability means to them and this is what they replied.

‘Vulnerability is allowing ourselves to feel, being a well rounded human and being in a healthy relationship with our emotions.’

I think for me vulnerability is unbundling the insecurities, fears, pain and experiences tucked away from the average person's view. Basically saying "you know me from what you always see but I want you to know that this is also me and this is what I also go through. I may or may not need your help. But just know. " I feel these words just can't be shared with anyone. It really has to be a friend. And that friend can also be your biological brother/ sister / parent or partner.

Also this is me..... I can share these words to strangers I plan on never seeing again .

Vulnerability is a state of being, a process and belief of what it means to be human, linking our lives with others in an ecological sense whilst being true to our inner person.

When I first came across the word vulnerability, it denoted something negative. Something that we all ought to run away from. After all, who wants to be vulnerable? Being vulnerable is dangerous, it means you are at a risk!

Surprisingly, being vulnerable is what allows us as human beings to connect. When you choose to love someone, you choose to be vulnerable. When you decide to initiate a business, you put yourself on a vulnerable path – a slippery one.

As a man, when I discovered this, it helped me look at different circumstances and experiences differently. It is hard for men to be ‘vulnerable’, to open up and talk about their emotions or feelings. Society has molded us that by doing so, we are exposing ourselves - our weaknesses and thus we should not be vulnerable.

Being able to define vulnerability correctly is fundamental. Being vulnerable to me is like a double edged sword – it can help you heal for example and also some people can use it against you. Your definitions will determine your perception of it. Understanding that vulnerability is courage will help you choose it albeit with some knowledge of what it is.

As a man, I choose who to be vulnerable to. I will not open to anyone who crosses my path. I will be vulnerable to the person who has earned the right to be in that personal space. Not everyone qualifies to hear my story.

Again as a man, building meaningful relationships is fundamental. Lack of safe space for men has rendered them unable to open up and be vulnerable. This has overwhelmed them and rendered them ineffective members of the society.

I will reiterate that vulnerability is not weakness rather, it is courage. It is courage to trust. It is courage to fall in love. It is courage to open a small business even when the thought and possibility of failure is inevitable.

Vulnerability means the willingness to risk being hurt emotionally as well as being embarrassed as a man for not being strong

Vulnerability to me means being introverted yet willing to connect when trust is established.

I think vulnerability basically means understanding that other people can also help me carry my own burdens, that I do not have to do anything by myself if It is difficult no matter how threatened I feel about society's knowledge of whatever I am facing and my weaknesses

Vulnerability is the aspect of being exposed to something. Though, in most cases, it is seen as a negative trait for the diverse effects on one's mental health. It can also be a positive trait by showing the aspect of someone who has some weakness and needs help. This by showing that there are areas that one needs help. This makes someone better.

"Vulnerability is such a misconstrued concept, often labeled as a scary, bad thing or emotional weakness when it comes to men. To me, vulnerability means the freedom to freely express my emotions, and acknowledge them, especially emotions that are painful. It is my ability to freely express how I'm truly feeling without masking or hiding the true emotions. Being able to express our emotions, gives us the power to differentiate them and find ways to cope and with each as we look forward to building a healthy relationship with everyone"

Being vulnerable means finding someone who either shares the struggle, or has been in the struggle or genuinely understands my trouble and just hear each other out! It is encouraging that I am not alone, but two I get to hear their side of the story which will help me overcome my side of the story.

Would I be ignorant if I said that I expected different answers? (Of course I would be but bare with me) I know what vulnerability is but for some reason when I posed this question to different men in my life, I expected some difficult science to it. I guess it all comes down to men being human. Men deserve safe spaces. Men have insecurities. Men struggle too. Men can be vulnerable. Men should be vulnerable in safe spaces. And that’s on period!!!!

Written by Jackline Njagi

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