Monday, September 8, 2014

On Vulnerability

If you were to go to William Wei's website ( and go to his profile page, you would find a question posed to him: What is the hardest thing for you to forget?  I know you can do this because I have done this.  Just last week, in fact.

I wonder if your reaction at his answer would be similar to mine: surprise.  

Some context.  For years now, William Wei has made various appearances on my blog.  Or rather, his videos and the occasional picture has made his way onto my blog.  He's a sort of self-made, self-promoting artist.  A foreign language (English) major at the Taiwanese equivalent of Harvard, he was the winner of a music TV show called Happy Sunday and started producing his own music and posting it on a website.  Everything I've seen from his appearances on TV as well as his early Youtube videos are what one would expect from a kid with his background making his foray into music - confidence, poise, charisma, good looks, music skills and that enviable ability to make people laugh.  He's so great that I've tried multiple times (on my blog, of course) to set him up with my sister who at one time only demanded that he own guitars and have arms.  Check and check.  

So, this is what he wrote in response to the before mentioned question.  The thing that he finds the hardest to forget (read: most memorable) is that for 6 long years, he had such severe acne that he was afraid to leave his house.  

When I read those words, I thought I had misunderstood them.  They are in Chinese, after all.  Did a famous singer really cite that as the most unforgettable time of his life?  It seemed like a very personal thing to share, baring one's soul, so to speak: Here is the most painful thing I've ever endured. 

 I'm sure it was the thing that helped shape him into the impressive person he is today.  I'm interested though in understanding how that transformation occurred.  How did a boy who was afraid to go out in public learn to stand confidently on a stage?  How did he learn to be poised and charismatic?  When did he learn to charm a crowd?  Also, does the pain of his past still linger?  Does he look in the mirror and see only scars?  Or does he seem himself for the attractive man that he is?  (inside and out attractiveness, thank you very much)  I want to know because I want to learn from him.  I already marvel at his courage.  

We have a tendency to believe that putting our best face and best foot forward is the only way to make it in this world.  

Brene Brown who gave excellent Ted talks on shame said, "If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. And I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself,I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens. And even if you got as perfect as you could and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster when you got in there, that’s not what we want to see. We want you to go in. We want to be with you and across from you. And we just want, for ourselves and the people we care about and the people we work with, to dare greatly." (Listening to Shame, 2012).  

Her thoughts have a valid point.  Humans want to connect; we want to care.  We come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences but we all know in our own spheres what it means to be imperfect and we all know that universal inclination to hide our weaknesses from others.  The courage to share gives others the courage to connect.  

Thank you, William, for sharing a piece of yourself.  Let's be friends.  No,  really.  Really, really.  


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