Safer to be Superficial, Greater to be Vulnerable
One of my favourite humans/idols Judah Smith said in his book How’s Your Soul that it “feels safer to be superficial”. What that mean? Well in this context, Judah was referring to when people ask how you are and you reply with a superficial answer such as “I’m fine. I’ve got lots of money in the bank, I have a nice car, a nice house – so I’m good” instead of telling people how you really feel on the inside. That superficial answer deals with how your life looks to others on the outside – it avoids you being vulnerable – it feels safer for you to give that answer.
In providing this answer however, you’re also providing a huge blockade and hindering yourself massively in the process. By withholding this information of how you’re actually feeling within yourself with a superficial front, you’re depriving yourself of essential human connection on a deeper and more profound level; you’re stopping yourself from receiving the assistance and advice that you need; and you’re also preventing yourself from helping someone else who is going through the exact same thing as you are just because it’s safer for you.
Whilst, I was reading this it got me thinking – “Do I do this? Am I superficial when people ask me probing questions? Do I put up a front so I don’t have to be vulnerable”. The answer? Yes. Absolutely. We all do. I mean, I definitely do it a lot less now, but I have done it a lot in the past - especially when asked about my disability (Spina Bifida). I know those of you who know or have known me may be thinking “But you’re quite upfront about your disability? I know about your disability? You talk about it openly, you don’t shy away from questions and you make A LOT of jokes”.
Well – yes I do and I have talked about my disability openly – but it’s normally just about what it is, how it affects me physically and how many surgeries I have had. But in asking myself if I provide superficial answers to peoples questions and upon realising I, as a matter fact, do indeed do that – I also realised that I don’t talk openly and honestly about how my disability makes me feel – and that I could disclose a lot more.
Why? Like Judah said, it feels safer to be superficial – being vulnerable is terrifying. Let me tell you a little secret – surprisingly, despite me being absolutely awesome, seriously good looking, endearing and talented – it’s not all about me. I realise this. I also realised that if I’m more vulnerable and disclose more about my disability, my struggles, my triumphs and how I feel about my disability – I’ll make deeper and more profound human connections; I’ll receive the advice and assistance that I need; I’ll help someone else or many someone else’s who have a disability or those who have a loved one with a disability.
I wanted to do all of that – but on a large scale. And I didn’t just want it for me, I wanted it for every person who has a disability, or who has a loved one with disabilities or someone who has encountered disability and wants to be more informed on disability. I wanted to create a community that could create deep connections; a community that could provide advice, assistance, wisdom and inspiration; an environment that could educate and provide help – all through disability - but how?
In April, i started my own blog – Let’s Discuss Disability. It does pretty much what it says on the tin. It acts as an open space for people to just discuss anything and everything disability. I started by sharing my own story - my experience and my life living with a physical disability. It was a massive leap into the unknown – I was completed naked (emotionally not physically, get that out of your head!), bearing my scars and allowing myself to be vulnerable to the entire world. Some of my thoughts and feelings, I hadn’t even shared with those closest to me.
The blog received 5,000 views in one week in around about 40 countries. Something I absolutely was not expecting! I was commended for my bravery, told how good of a writer I was and Scope (as you can see) got in touch with me about doing a guest post – but that wasn’t the best part. The best part was the other disabled people contacting me about sharing their story; the best part was the connections I made from that; the best part was people seeking my advice and help; the best part was able bodied people telling me how much they had learnt from reading my story. It was beautiful and overwhelming. I made so many deep, profound connections.
How did I do it? I was vulnerable. Yes, it was scary and it definitely would have felt safer to be superficial. But if I didn’t take that leap and if I had of sat in my safety, superficial, selfish seat of super comfortability – I wouldn’t of made so many beautiful connections; I wouldn’t have reached so many countries; I wouldn’t have been able to provide this space for people to share; I wouldn’t have been able to help; and I would’ve regretted it.
So – my name is Drew White. I have Spina Bifida that affects my back and my right leg. I have had 21 procedures and have a lot of sexy scars. I love writing, music, pretty girls, Jesus (he’s number one on the list) and cricket - just like any 21-year-old male. I’ve actually represented the England Physically Disabled Cricket Team in Bangladesh. I have struggles and successes in disability – but it’s definitely a blessing and not a burden. Disability does not define me, but it has molded me into this person. And I’m grateful for that.
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