From the time they get the slap on their backside babies have known how to express their needs. New parents know that rest will not be forthcoming for them unless they meet those needs.
Children are unashamed and unabashed when it comes to being themselves. As toddlers they are curious and full of wonderment. They are also very self-aware. They know when to lay down and give relief to their tired limbs and when to keep going. They know no shame or guilt, they know no filters.
As they grow they start to realise that certain things are no nos. They see that some of their antics are being met with disapproval and that is when they start to hold back.
We are taught from an early age that we must not succumb to any emotion or action that might be perceived as weak.
We must not admit to tiredness or feeling sick or needing a shoulder to cry on. Men, especially, have been programmed or have had it instilled into them that they can be no tears for them (“big boys don’t cry”)
They must show control at all times – except perhaps when they knock their fingers while using a hammer. Perhaps then they are allowed a yowl of pain and an expletive or two.
If you are sick you must soldier on nevertheless because, well, to stop and take some rest would be a fault; a sign of not being able to cope.
You must not admit to being overwhelmed or panicked.
If you are a student – in spite of what our teachers would tell us to the contrary- you confess to not understanding concepts at your own risk. You must be well acquainted with all the formulas and all the names and all the dates. You do not want your school mates knowing that you are struggling even if they are struggling themselves. You do not want to be perceived as weak. You do not want the label “average “, “slow learner” to apply to you.
You must not let on, if you are a parent, that your kids are proving a handful and that you need help. You must do most everything yourself- from scratch if needs be- because well, how else will you measure up?
The standards we set and place for ourselves are ridiculous and inhumane.
Setting worthy and lofty goals is admirable but to pretend to have super human capabilities, to suppress our inherent needs, to be unforgiving of anything less than “perfection” that is the road to depression and anxiety.
To always wear a face of control and an attitude of “having it all together” is to set a precedent for our kids that they must- no matter what- always have their wits about them and their lives be picture perfect.
Why are we telling them this? Why are we growing a generation afraid to show vulnerability, terrified of being themselves?
Perhaps we feel if we ask for help, or show a less than put together ‘in -control- of my- life” person- we will fall in other people’s estimation of us or worse in our own estimation of ourselves.
Perhaps we feel if we admit to not knowing or of being unaware of something we will be judged for it or even taken advantage of because we are so clearly uninformed.
Perhaps we think if we show our true selves and not what the world will have us pretend to be then we will not have the connection we seem to so desperately need. Even at the expense of our own authenticity and uniqueness.
But we humans are ‘weak’. We fall sick, we forget, we lose things and we make mistakes. Owning up to being less than perfect, of needing others, of not having all the answers well, that adds to our beauty as people.
If authenticity, being true to yourself, feeling and showing emotion, needing others, admitting overwhelm , accepting your humanness is a sign of being less than, a sign of ‘being average’ then, my dear friends, I believe it is the time for weakness.