I see you. I see you stare hard into your mirror till your reflection blurs. I see you follow the green veins protruding on your arm till they disappear somewhere just before your elbow. I see the sadness in your eyes. The deep, deep sadness in your eyes.

There’s this saying that goes like, “The Eyes are the window to your soul”. I believe this saying was meant for you. Because your eyes, your eyes have seen what most never have. Your eyes are a world of its own.

I see you wear your heart on your sleeves every morning as you walk out into the perfect storm. You do this every single day. Tirelessly. Repeatedly. And in the evening, you come back with your heart worn off. Filled with scratches, tears and slits from all the beasts you encounter in the wilderness. I see you sit on the cold floor, hugging yourself in between tears, slowly caressing your wounds. You lick them till the redness fades away. And you go to sleep, scared to death, with a heavy heart, really really overwhelmed brain…yet, the next day, I see you do it all over again; wear your tattered heart like it is brand new again. Into the wilderness. Into the storm. With a beautiful smile on your face. To fight like you’ve never done before. To absorb all the emotions you encounter; the pain, the misery, the joy and the love. Oh! the love!

I truly believe that you’re really brave; no exaggerations I promise. I believe that it takes a really huge heart, a very resilient human to be just what you naturally are.

I watch you. I watch you lay down the stones, leading the way to the ocean. I watch you welcome every Jane, Julia and Jessica to view the spectacular scenery. The serene ocean. The beautiful sunset. The standing-tall palm trees. I watch as they step on the stones you just laid down, sinking them into the wet sand. I watch you as everyone leaves. As everyone hurts you.

I see you open up your chest widely apart, at the middle of the road, for everyone to see what’s inside you; daring people to come closer, touch your brokenness. I see you speak your truth, honestly, maybe too honestly, it numbs those around you. I see you hand out love like free Christmas gifts as everyone stares on. I see you cry, heart-wrenching sort of cry, the is-she-crazy sort of cry.

They think you’re like a broken tap; emotions oozing out of you like a river. ‘Aint those a little too much?’ they ask.
‘Shouldn’t you be a little bit stronger?’

I watch you crumble as people stare at you. As people question your sanity. As people call you weak.

You should hold it back.
Trim down the honesty.
Reveal only a very tiny bit of yourself.
You need to build that wall within you.
Who cares about being raw anyway?!
Bring down those emotions a notch.
Why do you allow yourself to care that much?!
How do you expect people not to hurt you when you let them in too deep?

I watch you as people make you question, ‘what is wrong with me?’

I watch you fight the battle within you. That only you will ever see. I watch you shower happiness into people, like you never needed it. I watch you over-pour yourself into people’s cups. I watch you care. I watch you extend the goodness in you to those around you. I watch you love like there’s no tomorrow. I watch you touch souls. I watch you attend to others’ wounds. I watch you empathize. Change lives. Make it better for everyone. I watch you soldier on, despite all they say and do to you. I watch you adapt and learn. I watch you feel. I watch you open up to the world like a flower, ready to bloom. I watch you take the risk, every single day, to be your true self. To own up to your mistakes. To reach out to others. To be genuine. Authentic. Raw. And brave, very very brave.

I don’t care what they say, I believe vulnerability is not a defect.

I see you.

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.