“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.
This blog uses affiliate and referral links. Clicking a link costs you nothing, but the small commission from your click/purchase helps support this blog. Thank you!