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What’s wrong with being vulnerable?

My friend Shirley just told me that her 14-year-old daughter has a new thing at school called "covid support.”

There’s no doubt kids are stressed by COVID, so they’re apparently going to teach her daughter the skill of being vulnerable.

Her daughter, Becca, reported that she and the other kids were told that being vulnerable is share something with the class that you've been afraid to share before. I told her that was the most feckless and stupid advice for kids I’ve heard in a long time.

Whatever happened to “don’t talk to strangers?” Not to mention the obvious question (well, it was obvious to Shirley); is there a creature that walks the earth potentially meaner than a 14-year-old entrusted with a rivals’ secret? Kids don’t need to learn how to be vulnerable...they already are.

Being vulnerable is fashionable

If you want to tell kids to share their thoughts and feelings at least have the presence of mind to be discriminating as to who they share their feelings with.

Some may wish to display all of their insecurities for the word to behold...Shirley would rather teach her daughter to look both ways when crossing the street, never talk to strangers, and turn to a trusted group of friends/adults when she needs help...thank you very much and bless your heart!

I guess she is a little old school. Being vulnerable is quite fashionable. We’ve been told that we can all be brave, and in doing so, experience a joyous, profound breakthrough...if we just take the risk and share our shame.

Tell it all brothers and sisters

We’ve been asked to believe that our capacity for being vulnerable is thwarted only by our fear of what others will think.

We’re also told that if we can just be “true to who we are” we will become safe, love more deeply, and transform the world by our example, by being vulnerable. I’m justifiably skeptical.

There are a lot of conflicting opinions about being vulnerable, but here’s my problem with that view of becoming more vulnerable, just like our kids...we already are.

A recent review of psychological sequelae (pathologies) providers may be instructive; it revealed numerous emotional outcomes, including stress, depression, irritability, insomnia, fear, confusion, anger, frustration, boredom, and stigma associated with quarantine, some of which persisted after the quarantine was lifted.” New England Journal of Medicine.

We are already vulnerable...and talking to strangers

A large multinational study looked at nearly 5,000 study subjects. The researchers followed them through the lockdowns. A series of surveys were conducted during the first and second lockdowns in their respective countries. The first questionnaire asked questions about physical and mental health, stress and career issues. The second survey explored their sense of reciprocity, risk-taking, altruism, and the basis for their decision-making during the lockdown.

The researchers concluded that the COVID lockdown has resulted in more selfish reactivity, degraded decision-making skills, and more impulsivity and recklessness.

And frankly, that’s showing up in how many of us are getting our emotional needs met. We call it...being vulnerable.

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