I saw an old neighbor/friend in the grocery store recently and I ducked into the next aisle to avoid speaking with her. The last time I had seen her, I was a bit of a hot mess and was embarrassed to confront the vulnerable version of myself that I had shown her during our last interaction. That day had been a classic bomb–I woke up to an over-drafted bank account, my car was on the fritz and I had just gotten into a heated argument with my boyfriend–and then I ran into her. Biting back the tears, I knew she could tell I was struggling, but I was afraid that the slightest inquiry from her would open up the flood gates and I wouldn’t be able to recover.
I often think about that day and how I held back on the honest answer to “how are you doing?” I was upset, she knew I was upset, yet I maintained that strong front. I look back in embarrassment about how I wasn’t honest with her or myself. I was scared to be vulnerable because I wasn’t sure what would come up for me. Who knows what kind of help or gentle encouragement I could have gotten from our interaction, if I had just opened up a little and let her in.
It’s only after moments like these that I have learned a few things about vulnerability:
Vulnerability is the act of allowing yourself to be seen and heard.
In the moments of my own tenderness (when I was feeling unhinged at the grocery store or less than adequate on a date,) I was able to see that we all have emotional soft spots, no matter who we are. The sooner I embraced that life was full of growth opportunities which are a direct result from being vulnerable, the calmer I felt because I knew I wasn’t alone.
Being vulnerable is an ongoing process that we fine-tune over time. It’s awkward, uncomfortable and it’s totally necessary in order to move forward. It is only when I figured out how I personally handle vulnerability that I experienced true personal growth. I realized I could ease up a bit on the inner critic and express my feelings as they came up.
Being vulnerable isn’t a weakness, it’s a gift.
It’s about being who you really are. In order to really connect in life, we have to be open to accepting all parts of ourselves–especially the ones that are cringe-worthy and not pretty; revealing ourselves to others is a result of that kind of acceptance. I know it benefits everyone when I show the world who I really am because it builds bridges with others in a way that only exposing real emotions can.
And being vulnerable is not as scary/hard/dreadful as it may seem; we all fear rejection, but stretching our comfort zone and taking the leap again and again builds a strong level of confidence. Courage is what we get after we do the scary thing.
Self-acceptance is the key to getting through the feeling-vulnerable spot.
I learned that when I accept me, it won’t rock my world when others don’t. When I stand honestly in my vulnerability, I can see the vulnerability in others and relate more to them; it’s a common thread that connects us together. We are all vulnerable in many different ways and when we share it, we allow others to do the same.
We learn more about ourselves when we’re being vulnerable because there’s no more hiding. I know it’s hard to be open and show who you really are, but with each step forward it gets easier. As you understand yourself better, you are more able to show that to others. This includes showing your joy, too.
Rather than sheltering our feelings, what if we could open up and reveal our true selves without rejection or fear? How would being more vulnerable change your life?