Opinion: Vulnerability exudes more strength than stoicism

Ria Parikh | Staff Writer

Nowadays, the “strong” people are the quiet ones. The ones who do not cry when they are in pain; the ones who do not yell when they are angry. The strong people are the people who sit in silence as things happen to them and decide to take it. Apparently being strong is synonymous to being a rock.

I disagree. I think that a huge part of having strength is being open and honest about how you feel. When you are upset, say so. When you are in pain, acknowledge it. When you are nervous, relieved, scared own up to it. It is what makes you human.

I think that the whole idea behind hiding your emotions is counter productive. We are taught that being able to suppress how you feel and acting like nothing bothers you is not only healthy, but a sign of superiority. In reality, negative emotions are scientifically linked to having a healthy and stable well-being. If you suppress those emotions rather than let them show, you are actually doing more harm to yourself than good.

Now, I am not suggesting an onsurge of tears for every bad grade or snarky comment. That is also unhealthy. And that is also another misconception. When we think about the expression of our emotions, all we think of is tears. It is natural, since tears are the most obvious and one of the most outright displays of emotion, but it doesn’t make it the only one. But what I am suggesting is giving ourselves the freedom to do more than just sit there. If you are proud of yourself, you should not feel ashamed to show it; if you are disappointed or angry, you should not have to hide it.

Displaying emotions could mean anything, from jumping up and pumping your fists, walking with a bit more force when you are angry with a straight face rather than a smile, having a smile when you have done something well. We have just associated emotions with tears and immaturity, when they actually have a pretty huge range.

All my life I have heard that the key to success is not showing my emotions. It has just never made sense. To me, strength is recognizing your emotions, allowing yourself to show them and working through them. Running away from them and pretending they do not exist is actually a pretty big sign of weakness. Emotions are literally just chemical reactions. They really are. Unfortunately, you can’t tell the chemicals in your body to shut up and not to react. Pretending that those chemical reactions just do not happen does not make you any stronger than the people who choose to let the chemicals do their thing.

If you want to do that, knock yourself out, but do not expect any praise.