The beauty of vulnerability

Molly Hulligan is a first-year English major. She is an intern for the Newswire from Springfield, Ill.

I believe in being messy and complicated and afraid and showing up anyway.

This has been my mantra since my junior year of high school, and it has yet to fail me as I continue to dive headfirst into my freshman year of college.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been that person who is too anxious for their own good. As a perfectionist, I overthink everything, which often stunts me from contributing in even the simplest of ways. I refuse to present anything to the world that is anything less than the best I can give (a blessing and a curse). Whether it’s raising a hand in class, cracking a joke in a group of peers or asking that person I don’t know very well to hang out, I tend to make situations more complicated than they otherwise would be.

As determined of a mindset as that may sound, quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I caught on to that pretty quickly in high school and had to learn to be OK with the occasional mediocrity every teenager feels at one point or another. Entering into a new and vulnerable position as a freshman at Xavier, though, it wasn’t long before my old habits resurfaced. What if my roommates don’t like me? What if I sound stupid in class? What if they don’t think I’m funny? You know how overthinking goes.

Coming into this year, I suppose I expected to feel more adult. I am in college, after all, so why wouldn’t I? If anything, I felt more vulnerable than ever before (pretty unwillingly too, I might add). Sure, everyone was nervous for Manresa and the first week of classes. After that, though, I had myself convinced that I should be completely comfortable in my new environment.

Even so, the discomfort just didn’t go away for me. I felt out of place and unsure of myself. I never lacked the nerve to show up, but I realized pretty quickly that just showing up wouldn’t be enough. If I wanted to make the most of my time here, I’d have to get OK with being messy and complicated in front of a bunch of strangers. However, because I felt so unsure of my place in the Xavier community, it was extremely difficult to find the courage to be so willingly vulnerable.

Like I said before, though, my mantra has yet to let me down.

After about a month of exhausting perfectionism and worrying about my every move, I remembered something important: Vulnerability makes room for good things to grow. Beauty is found in the deep down, well below surface level. It’s not about outgrowing the discomfort, but instead about giving into it. It’s about being vulnerable and uncomfortable and showing up anyway.

I’ve always believed that human connection is the most important thing in life. Without vulnerability, no connection or relationship can flourish. Vulnerability is bringing your true, messy and complicated self to the party for the sake of human connection — for the sake of growth. If you’re messy and complicated, but your relationships are stronger because of it, then isn’t that kind of the point? Doesn’t that make it all worth it?

So, yeah — I believe in vulnerability. I believe in being uncomfortable. I believe in saying how you feel and saying it with your chest. I believe in the beauty of the deep down. I believe in truth. I believe in love and acceptance. I believe in human connection. I believe in going anywhere and doing anything at all for the people you love. I believe in being messy and complicated and afraid and showing up anyway.