Whenever somebody asks me what my goal is in life I’m forced to pause for a moment or two and think about my priorities. A pause to remember what those priorities look like. A quick look back at the last few weeks to take stock of where I’m at. All in the hopes that my answer is neither bullshit or disagreeable.
My answer will aim to please people because why would your goals be to be vulnerable? How often do you walk around town telling your mates that you want to be vulnerable? Yet often being vulnerable is perceived as being something negative but what it should mean is actually just another part of being human.
We are all vulnerable in some way or another. The classic generational saying “everybody has shit to deal with.” It’s not an unheard song or misread lyrics. The people within our communities, especially in schools, all have a mutual understanding that other people are going through stuff.
Growing up in school I learnt that depression was a thing and that there were counsellors out there that I could use if needed. There were no questions about why from my friends it was just a confidential discussion between you and someone qualified to host that discussion.
When I first got counselling I remember thinking how pathetic and weak my perception of myself was. To think of the consequential talks I’d be having with my parents afterwards was like pouring raspberry lemonade all over the fur-coated lounge chair. The paranoia that my family would find out, scared that my friends would learn about it.
My immediate thoughts were to hide the conversations at school and control the situation by telling nobody but my counsellor what was going down. My first thoughts were how weird it was that I wasn’t in class during class time. This strange thing where you kind of stop moving but the whole world just keeps going. Scared about the stains on the couch but nobody seems to really take any notice at all.
That’s when the comfort kicked in, the moment of realizing that there was no need to feel paranoid about people learning that you were getting counselling because we actually live in a world that allows you to, where schools have a system that takes vulnerability into account. The moment for me was feeling this sense of calm knowing that if my family lived in this world then they would still support me being who I am and not hoping for a stereotype.
Being vulnerable is another human trait that only this generation has been encouraged to be open about. Take the baby boomers for example. A generation of competitors. White collar-quarter acre dreaming working class, stuck in their tall poppyist neighbourhoods complaining about the colour of Pam’s letterbox across the road or grumpy about the price of chicken at New World supermarket.
A generation of hard-working labourers, farming communities being wound in by the globalisation of world trade and stronger economies downtrodden by the industrialisation and urbanised cheap hood of living. A culture of New Zealanders who’ve been refused the right to free speech stomped out by an institutionalised way of living.
For those who didn’t understand half of that last paragraph like me what I was saying was old people who live in New Zealand today have missed out on the opportunity to change the culture and system because they were plagued by the increased necessity for happiness through the weight of the wallet and lesser on being who they really are.
Another journey of mine was becoming a Christian. Now what that doesn’t mean is inside some building in the middle of the city is this church where a cult of people come together each week on a Sunday and do sacrificial fire dancing. What it really means to me is that through Christianity I have recognised that we are flawed beings and we should embrace that so change can happen. That we have a soul and we like to spill raspberry juice on couches. We as humans are actually really selfish and ultimately we will screw up.
My first encounter with God was when I was 15-years old. A couple of my friends invited me to join them at this youth group which was just down the road from where I was staying. The first time I went I was nervous about how people would judge me, both at church and also in school. Because my friends were there it was this suddenly normalised environment where there was support and I could learn everything about it.
After meeting some really cool people over time I eventually heard about this event called Easter Camp, which is a huge four-day camp which runs over Easter both in the South and North Island of the country. This was a camp where 4500 young Christians from all over the country would come together once a year and sing some songs and eat some food.
But these songs were special. See they weren’t your normal love-lust pop songs, they weren’t breakup haiku poems either. They were worship songs. What they were about was the story of Christ and the lyrics almost always pointed towards being grateful for the relationship that we as people were allowed to have with God.
You can imagine this Maori guy in this enormous tent looking around rolling my eyes going “why the heck am I here” right? And you’d be right, I was like a fish out of water. It was definitely a weird experience for me. The weirdest part was standing in a crowd of thousands, some of whom were my close friends and just realising that I was the one that was weird and not other people. The reason for that was that I was afraid of letting go. I was scared about looking vulnerable.
Remember earlier we talked about how being vulnerable is just another part of being human. Through Easter Camp, I learned that the words of each worship specifically talked about how we as humans commit sin a lot. We make mistakes and we hurt other people but the reason is that we are ultimately vulnerable beings that hurt other people because we are afraid of letting go and looking vulnerable.
Becoming a Christian was one of the most humbling experiences any person could ever go through. The consistent reminder that we are not better than others and we should not think that being vulnerable is the wrong thing to do. It reaffirmed what my counsellor said and it reaffirmed my belief that the couch is stained but at the end of the day it isn’t the end of the world and that my family and friends will not reject me simply because I am being vulnerable.
So be vulnerable! It doesn’t mean be depressed what it really means is be human, be open, be honest. And realise that we are all in the same boat. You are trying to be you and I’m just trying to be me. What does that look like? Well shit, that’s another blog bro!
Thanks for checking in!