In my New Year’s slash get-over-thinking-about-boys resolution, I mentioned seeking confidence and humility.
Yesterday at my Jean Donovan fellowship meeting we focused on the concepts of humility and vulnerability.
And lately, I’ve found the meeting of vulnerability and listening in listening and talks with friends.
It’s incredible how much trust it takes to open up and feel completely yourself- Completely unfiltered and free of hesitation, free from fear of rejection or judgement. These limitations exist all too often, and this school year has taught me to value situations in which there are both vulnerability and humility. One person is vulnerable enough to expose themselves in their actions or the information they share, and the other displays humility in their active acceptance and listening.
Vulnerability helps you feel most you. Vulnerability allows others to see your unedited self. Vulnerability lets you truly, really live in the moment by making a move against hesitation, expectations, or fear. You combat over-thinking in hopes of energy, strength, and enjoyment in a moment. Vulnerability allows one to savor feeling and being. The focus is on the present. The focus is on pureness, even if the pureness can be related to flaws or imperfections.
Listening is a way to look beyond yourself. It is a way to disconnect from your stresses, troubles, or self-righteous distractions. Listening helps us support others, but only if it is engaged, active, and wholehearted. All too often we are going through the motions of life with busy, repetitive schedules and behaviors. Listening is most needed in the midst of chaos. To let someone speak vulnerably about their worries, needs or just life requires an adequate listener. A listener who will not let words go through them like a breath of air or a passerby on the street.
Listeners help speakers express themselves, yet they also personally benefit. Listening lets us reflect. We take in things we can relate to our own lives or we hear completely new perspectives. Either way, there is room for reflection. It bothers me that listening is taken for granted. It bothers me that people are willing to speak logically and truthfully, but their voices get lost due to inadequate listeners.
As someone who has found a sense of appreciation for vulnerability through the deepened connections I’ve foraged this school year, I firmly acknowledge the need for good listeners to accompany the risk in expressing vulnerability. Listening lets people get what they need to say out. Listening lets them feel love. Listening lets them feel valued and connected. Listening lets both parties grow. Why not shut your mouth, put down your phone, and listen? The humility you exhibit in listening will be rewarded with the stories you hear and the people you support. Listening also accompanies accepting vulnerability. If you are in the presence of a trustworthy accept-or/listener, let yourself feel and be vulnerable. Savor the experience we are often too afraid of. Because even if your vulnerability eventually busts, you will have already taken in the greatness of the moment or of the feeling. And you can learn from that.
Everyone can learn from the power of listening. Humility and vulnerability are exhibited in their purest state.