On Vulnerability

Love this passage from Brene Brown's book, Rising Strong. It doesn't matter if it's romantic or platonic, you cannot be guarded and have a healthy relationship with someone. Does vulnerability come easily to you?
Love this passage from Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong.

“I don’t know how to be vulnerable,” I confess to a new friend. “Being vulnerable means letting someone see you for who you are, and the risk frightens me.”

As soon as I push send, I regret my small confession. Sure, I joke about being emotionally constipated, but said with a laugh and a smile, the statement loses its bite.

I wait for a reply that doesn’t come, and as the hours tick by, I’m consumed by self-loathing. Should I really have said that to someone I don’t know that well? But, I’d thrown in silly stuff, too! Maybe I was too silly? Too silly or too heavy? OMG, I’m the queen of mixed signals. Am I a crazy person?

If you’ve ever sent a message to someone new and not received a response, you know that terrible feeling of free falling. Possibilities race through your mind.

Maybe they didn’t see the message…

Maybe they’re busy…

They’re probably busy.

Maybe they think it doesn’t need a response…

It doesn’t really need a response.

But, maybe I said something wrong…

Oh, no, do they hate me now?

This, dear readers, is what it means to be vulnerable. It’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it?

My favorite definition of vulnerability comes from Urban Dictionary:

“Someone who is completely and rawly open, unguarded with their heart, mind, and soul. Being vulnerable happens when you trust completely. Rather its vulnerability by pain or joy, it’s being exposed with all of the emotions that make it easy for someone (someone you trust) to really do some emotional damage or healing.. Vulnerability is the surrender of all control and personal power in regards to letting someone close enough to destroy you!”

Synonyms include helpless, defenseless, powerless, and weak. I admit those words frighten me, and make vulnerability sound painful. But, what your English teacher forgot to tell you is that vulnerability is key to building relationships.

It doesn't matter if it's romantic or platonic, you cannot be guarded and have a healthy relationship with someone.Click To Tweet

And, yet, when you are a control freak like I am, vulnerability is the last thing you want in your life. I want to write the script and watch the other person read the lines. If only life worked that way. Instead, we live in a world where people might not laugh at our jokes or respond to our texts. It’s a world where you might need a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on and discover that there is no one there.

The world can be a scary place.

I know. I’ve been there.

And, yet, part of me admires those people who can be completely and rawly open. Vulnerability can be a beautiful thing when two people trust each other. Someone who doesn’t run away from other people’s pain, who sees their joys and fears, triumphs and tears and accepts them. That person is gold.

I’ve yet to learn to find satisfaction in vulnerability, to find joy in emotions outside of my control. But, I’m learning to let go bit by bit. Like a cat sliding down a tree, I’m falling slowly, claws out, fighting the whole way down, but I’m learning that a happy life is never about control. It’s about being open to the possibilities.

Does vulnerability come easily to you?

P.S. If you liked this post, you might, also, enjoy Love yourself where you’re at!

P.P.S. If you are looking for a wonderful book on vulnerability and picking yourself up after a failure, don’t miss Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.

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Warby Parker


  1. I’m definitely not some who shows vulnerability. I have had some bad experiences in the past so it takes me awhile to feel comfortable and trusted with someone. I totally relate to sending a message and then analyzing the response time!

  2. I wrestle with vulnerability constantly. I know I have to be vulnerable to connect with others but its hard to put yourself out on a limb and at the mercy of the goodness and kindness of others.

  3. I am definitely vulnerable at times, but cannot say I enjoy it. My desire to be organized prevents me from giving up too much control,. But I must say I love new experiences and that is the kind of vulnerablility I enjoy!

  4. Vulnerable is a weird word, or it has kind of a weird meaning in our society. I think people associate it wit women and their romantic relationships with men. But via this definition my whole life has been dominated by being vulnerable.

    Allie of ALLIENYC

  5. I struggle with being vulnerable so much. I’m such a sensitive soul so put a ice mask on because otherwise I’m a bit of an emotional wreck!

    Corinne x

  6. I don’t find being vulnerable easy and find it intrusive when people try to force a friendship, overshare with me and then expect the same in return.

  7. I think to a certain extent, vulnerability is something we all see as a weakness, when it’s really a sign of strength:)

  8. Vulnerability doesn’t come easy to me because I tend to be very protective but sometimes it can also be quite liberating to show that side.

  9. I think that (sadly) learning to protect ourselves comes as we grow and get hurt.

    WE learn that it’s okay to be vulnerable with people we trust, but keep people at arms length until we trust them enough. It’s a good protection mechanism but it can lead to a lot of doubts and insecurity when we do open up. I don’t know what the solution is, only that when you do have that relationship you can be completely open and honest and vulnerable in, it’s a good one!
    Mica recently posted..Wearing A Colourful Bag to the Office with Textured Pencil Skirts and Black ShirtsMy Profile

  10. It’s amazing the definition of vulnerability… I never really thought of that, the way they defined it… I think that if you sent such a message to someone, a response would be the least someone could send, facing such a deep comment. But yes, we start thinking “busy? did she or he receive it? am i too ridiculous?” and so on. Yes, when we are vulnerable people tend to abuse our feelings. But only if we have “bad” people around us 🙂 I loved your post! Hope you have a beautiful day!

  11. what an awesome post. I can relate as I’m not very good at being vulnerable unless it is around family and people who know me very well. In the socialsphere it can be especially hard to always be honest with how you are feeling in fear of being judged. This was truly such a thoughtful and also thought evoking post. Hope you don’t mind if I share it in my bible study tonight.



  12. It’s super hard for me to show vulnerability. I totally hate that about myself. If someone else worries about me, I start to worry even harder.. even when it’s unfounded.
    As for the new friend, sometimes people just take time to reply! I hope your friend did.

  13. OMG, it’s hard for me to be vulnerable also. I’m in my head a lot, it’s hard for me to let people in because that means they have the ability to hurt me and who wants to be hurt? If I text you and you don’t respond I usually freak out so I can only imagine putting yourself out there to your friend and not hearing back right away, that’s just frightening. The world is a terrifying place especially if you are an artist like you and me, we are putting yourself out there and it’s soooo scary.

  14. It’s so interesting to me that I can be so open and vulnerable with my roommates and close girl friends, and even sometimes strangers. But when it comes to being in a romantic relationship I can’t seem to open up, and end up building walls around me making it difficult to get past a certain point of knowing who I truly am. It’s ironic how my fear of rejection has ended up with rejection twice, because I’m not fully confident in being vulnerable. I have this weird mentality that if I keep a far enough distance, when there is a break up, it won’t hurt as much because I didn’t let my guard down.

    Yeah I know…it’s bad. I’m working on it…

  15. I have difficulty letting go off control, which is tied to feeling vulnerable. I can do it with people I love and trust, but it’s tough in other areas of my life. But I try!