This summer the media reminded us that man arrived on the moon 50 years ago and what a great achievement that was for the Apollo Astronauts and for all the world. This made me think of a boy that dreamt to become a cosmonaut: Auggie Pullman.
As you may know, Auggie is the main character of a book called Wonder. Last month I read this book again and I remembered that a clear theme, in the movie they made later, is Auggie’s astronaut helmet. It has many meanings for Auggie, but the main purpose of it was to help him cope with being different. Auggie’s helmet acts as a way to experience the world without actually living in it. It protects him from strangers.
It is quite natural to try to hide the things we do not like about ourselves or the things that make us vulnerable. Sometimes we can find ourselves wearing a “helmet” or mask hoping to feel more comfortable, even around those who we love most. Wearing it can help hide something but it does not make it change. It is only a mask.
We all feel weak and fragile sometimes. On some occasions, I feel that I do not fit into the standards that are created around me and that I have failed myself for not “being enough”.
Many people will not want their vulnerability to be recognised in a society where we are measured exactly for the opposite; for being effective, strong, work-oriented. We are afraid of letting people know that we are in need, that we get tired, that we need love, that we need a family and that we need a place to call home.
However, to accept our own vulnerability makes us stronger. As Simon Sinek states “true strength is the courage to admit our weaknesses”. And there is nothing more human than this.
An important part of facing vulnerability is being authentic because we all have both strengths and weaknesses. Authenticity is what the young generation need most. Somebody authentic must be real and approachable. Somebody perfect inspires admiration but creates distance, because at some point we all feel that it is not reachable. We prefer examples of people who struggle, who have to try every day, and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. But they always start again, as good athletes do.
Vulnerability not only makes us stronger but more generous too. Our own vulnerability can be a gift for others. When we accept ourselves we create a space around us where others will feel safe, because they are encouraged to accept themselves too and it allows them to show their real selves.
We all need to take off “our masks” and start showing ourselves as we are. It is precisely at home where we can demonstrate this because we are trained to live without a helmet. At home we do not have to hide our weaknesses because we are loved and accepted as we are and we know it. In all this learning process homemakers become the trainers. Everyday we go about our work in a place where we feel secure, with or without our helmets, we can face our vulnerability with courage.