Today, I am going to tell you everything. My darkest secrets. About my childhood. My relationships. And how I am KUWTK.
I know you are dealing with a lot, so I thought hearing about my struggles will motivate you. Which brings me to secret #1: I really don’t care about your struggles, I am baring it all because it’s only stuff like this that gets readership.
Also, I only vaguely remember all the things I am going to talk about, and I don’t even know if much of it happened at all, but hey – this is the 21st century! – and haven’t we all agreed facts are for sissies? So secret #2: I am going to make up shit because I need the sympathy of strangers to know I am loved.
Finally, before we begin: family, friends, former and future girlfriends, this one is for you. And I want you to remember this is who I am and if you can’t accept me for who I am, I can pretend to be someone else only if you are really rich. Secret #3 is solely for you, #mysupportsystem: I am not telling you jackshit, I like our shallow relationship the way it is.
Vulnerability’s changed. It meant something just ten years ago, when Brene Brown gave her TED talk making the idea mainstream; a time when you could use the words whole-hearted, authentic, and worthy of love in the same sentence and still somehow, not throw up.
What started as an effort to overcome shame and reach a place of belonging has turned on its head. Welcome to brain vomit.
Vulnerability has become a place where the more shame you brought to it, the more special it’d make to feel. It is your belonging in this hip society: “look at me talking shit to appear open and weak by sharing every thought passing through my head and saving on therapy.”
Secret #4: You are going deeper into your loneliness. You are creating an alternate version of yourself to cover up the one thing you should not feel ashamed of: yourself.
I don’t even mind getting crummy to explain this. You don’t become worthy of love just by admitting to your failures. You become worthy despite them. You don’t have to invent a weakness to get people to like you. Authenticity is knowing some people won’t like you and that that doesn’t make you weak. And if you need to be reminded of starving children and the Spanish flu to feel better about your life, you are way too deep in your own shit.
Because how did it come down to needing celebrity meltdowns to inspire us? That’s our idea of hope now? That kind of hope is to vulnerability what reality TV is to reality.
Vulnerability isn’t a means to overcome your loneliness. It is becoming comfortable with your loneliness. Your emotions aren’t a fashion statement. That’s why we have rappers. The flip side of finding comfort in someone else’s catastrophe is that their success is going to make you very uncomfortable. And that’s the worst kind of loneliness there is: Secret #5.
Vulnerability is being open to the whole range of human emotion. It starts inside out rather than outside in. It begins when you develop a healthy relationship with your emotions.
And it’s being able to forgive yourself when those emotions fail you. And it’s apologizing, improving, and forgiving yourself (again) when those emotions fail others. That is what helps us live with each other’s complexity. Blushing without remorse. Letting go amidst pain. Loving despite expectations.
There was a time when vulnerability produced art. But to go into art looking for vulnerability is like going into a coma hoping to find peace.
We’ve all agreed on this ubermenchian notion that adults are stronger than children. That growing older means growing stronger. That strength, in adulthood, means you are not as helpless as a child.
But as you grow older, for the first time, the number of things that could break you far exceeds the number of things you can break. ]
And you will be broken.
These broken parts of you aren’t a sign of weakness. They are a sign of life. And it takes courage to live a life like that. To go from strength to weakness over and over again. And this is what growing stronger in adulthood really means. It’s when you can look at imperfection and see wholeness.
Secret #6: Vulnerability with a goal is manipulation.
Secret #7: It’s going to get lonely, but how else will you know it’s going to get beautiful, too.
Secret #8: You are stronger than you think.
Secret #9: Despite everything, it’s okay to ask for help.
Secret #10: KUWTK is ending next year, and if that doesn’t crush your soul, nothing will.