Learning to be vulnerable

Personal Reflection

Isaac Schlegel | Mennonite Collegiate Institute

I graduated from Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI) in Gretna, Man., in 2016, and it is where I first learned to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is exposure, letting our true self shine through the layers of defence we build up around it. It is full, undaunted expression. Self-expression will mean something different to each person, but for me it meant finding my voice through singing.

I was sceptical about the idea of singing in choir. Singing has a certain association with impending judgment. I felt like it was too risky, too open to criticism.

I did ultimately come to MCI and hesitantly sang in the choir. My jaw was tight and my tongue curled back. I didn’t trust my voice and I certainly wasn’t going to experiment while other people were present, lest any Simon Cowells were to make their voices heard. I was terrified of being on stage, and that hasn’t totally faded. But I was happy to be in the larger choir, where my voice was least noticeable.

Things really changed for me when I joined chamber choir in Grade 11. I had long admired these singers and their confidence, but from a distance. Although I felt myself an impostor, I stayed and took advantage of it and grew to love the choral experience.

Singing is a spiritual activity for me. I encounter God in that space shared between singers, conductor and audience. There my spirits are lifted and I feel myself creative and coexistent. I did not experience this immediately. It was only when I allowed myself to fully join in, to mix voices with others and lend my own, that this process could begin. I had to be willing to put my soul and heart out into the room.

By Grade 12, I was singing in every group that would take me at MCI. In university, I have continued to sing, more to fulfill a need than a want. Music moves me, as I participate both as creator and listener, on a spiritual, emotionally resonant level. My faith life without singing, and the vulnerability it demands of me, would now feel incomplete.

For me, it is an ongoing struggle to maintain vulnerability, to be open. Because I have found that vulnerability is a requirement for living. The world is bounteous, and I am glad MCI helped me open myself to it.

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