Untouchable

Being a teenager is all about feeling untouchable. Pause right there and look at that word, untouchable, what does that mean? It means impervious, unimpregnable (that has nothing to do with the "Pregnancy Pact" Lifetime movie) and unable to be harmed. As teens and especially us college students walk around thinking we can't be tamed (Miley Cyrus's mess of a haircut anyone?) and so many of us are under the impression that we're unbreakable. Sorry to burst your bubble, we're not untouchable.

When you think you're untouchable, you're apt to do crazy, wild, and truthfully dangerous things. You've got to bring on down back to planet Earth (we may have the rover 'Curiousity' on Mars but that doesn't you can be in outer space) and calm yourself down. You're just as equal as everyone else, if not more equal (Animal Farm reference). As a teen and a human being, it's highly important to realize the necessity of vulnerability. Vulnerability means putting yourself out there, going out of your comfort zone and letting your walls come down. That means both socially, personally, and with all your relationships. Vulnerability is letting the real you shine bright for the world to see, and allowing your full personality to come out, untamed, unhinged, and uninterrupted. We're so busy pretending that we're perfect, we lack flaws, and that our lives are picturesque, but the truth of the matter is we've all got things to work on. The only way to work on them is to let yourself be worked on, and let others in to do some work on you as well. It's so hard to let your guard down, to let people in, and to show your weaknesses because of past harsh experiences, and the fears of rejection and betrayal. People can hurt you, disrespect you, and truly mess you up, but you'll never really find out who people are unless you let some people in. It's up to you to do your best to be real with not only yourself but everyone around you, you owe it yourself. Never untouchable.

Letting people into your personal sanctum, your innerspace, and into your life is always difficult. Being screwed over before, run train on, and backstabbed hardens your heart, and makes you not want to get to know people. Soften that on up, and let those people in who want to know you. Wednesday started with a professionally cooked breakfast from our very own IRA co-advisor Learie (culinary artist in all) and all of ate together in our little executive board circle, Bret, Anna, Terra, Sam, Felicia, Drake, Learie, and I. We went into a help me, help you session on what we need from our advisors. White boards and dry erase markers galore give us all a chance to dig down deep and say what we really meant. We journey to central campus for a BBQ (like ribs and all) with the rest of res life. Let it be known that whenever we walk into a place our faces look perpetually disgruntled - it might be because we might be a little bit judgy (whoopsies). We wait in line under the blazing hot sun, retrieve our grub, and eat in piece without interacting with any of the RA's - that's awkward. Back to our humble office area and it's time management with deejay JC Drake - which prompts us to fill out our calendars asap. We get time to work on our informational bulletins for each residence hall, and it's inside jokes flying back and forth in that work room. I for real already love us, we might be awesome - get at us. Then it was din-din but only with Terra, Sam, Felicia and I. We had a heated conversation about SGA, personal biases, and all the corrupt things about the world - and what we could do to change it. The passion and fire were definitely there, and that's what gets things done. Back to my suite in the Heights, and I'm jamming to Justin Bieber "As Long As You Love Me" when I hear a knocking on my door. It's my RA, Sonia - we start talking and exclaim how we are for the year and the other residents, we talk about her vegan diet, and even delve into the deeply disturbing world of bias incidents and racial motivated microaggressions and attacks. I'm not going to lie, I felt so comfortable with her to share some of my most hurtful moments, and it was that vulnerability that allowed us to build that strong bond already. Just a two and half hour conversation with someone who was a complete stranger only a few minutes ago. That's why we're not untouchable.

Showing emotion, especially if you're a guy is always accompanied by being a pansy, a wuss or effeminate - but the truth of the matter is, it means you're allowing yourself to be real. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. Thursday starts with me lighting up the damn bathroom with the remnants of laxative laced dining hall food (true story, kids) and it was a mess in there - no imagery necessary. I change, and have my little breakfast of cinnamon powdered doughnuts and Simply lemonade with mango juice. It's off to the Living and Learning Center (aka L&L) for day 1 of 3 in residential life's training of restorative practices. It's a lifestyle, and a model that teaches working with people instead of for and to them. Once again IRA walks into the room and everyone gives us this look like "who the eff are these kids" and we're just thinking "who be you" - it may be that we give off that "we don't like anyone" vibe, or that these people don't care who we are (let it be known that when they come ask for money, that's when they'll learn my name - deny, deny, deny) but we just kept to ourselves as always. A group of RA's starts the wave, and it comes to us - I stand up, my chair gets caught on my jeans and I knock my entire table over. Just another terrifyingly embarrassment moment in my perpetually clumsy teenage life - the slow clap that followed it, however, was not necessary. The training gets underway and it was definitely a learning experience. I learn about an hour in for my meeting about my role as president of IRA in convocation with the assistant director of student life, Dani Comey. Super nice lady for sure, and the meeting goes well - speech left to be written and I'll have to brush up on my high class social skills (uhm, not - do you know me). Back for more restorative practices where we learn about the different levels of confrontation, positive affective statements, all the way up to formal conferences. It's on to lunch where it's just chaos. Sporty kids and their athlete coaches are roaming the dining hall doing the utmost. The lo-mein ran out and the pizza was the slowest thing ever - let's just say I wasn't having it. Back to the restorative practices where we wrap things up and close with a community circle. IRA breaks off and we watch (well I accidentally fell asleep) a TED talk on vulnerability and it's importance (hence this post, duh) and we discuss it. We work more on our bulletins with banter between Learie, Felicia and I - truthfully we're all a little bit sassy. Off to dinner where it's fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and great conversation. Done for the day, and it's in to my room to order tons of cardigans, ties, and some textbooks before watching YouTube videos (to be quoted later) and call it a night. Untouchable, please.

Being a teenager is all about realizing you're human. We're imperfect, we make mistakes, and go through some of the most embarrassing moments of all time. The thing is, we can move past them. No we will never forget those moments that replay in our heads over and over, but we have the ability to be resilient, bounce back and overcome whatever we have to go through. We're just as susceptible to harm as anyone else, and while you're only young once - that doesn't mean you should take unnecessary risks - it means be vulnerable, open and ready to experience what life has to offer. Not untouchable.

My blog post question for the day is ... when are you at your most vulnerable? For me, that's when I'm supposed to be speaking to tons of people - I have to go out of my comfort zone and work my personality ... hard.

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