I have been thinking of vulnerability a lot of as of late. It seems simple: accept and love yourself unapologetically, and be open to all of life’s experiences, both positive and negative, without fear. In practice? An entirely different story. You mean to tell me that I’m supposed to expose myself for who I really am all of the time and allow people to possibly reject, hurt, and disappoint me? Pass.
In a world where both men and women are expected to be unwavering in their strength, it is no wonder that people have a an extremely difficult time being vulnerable. The word itself is typically associated with weakness, fear, and shame: qualities that young boys are raised to avoid like the plague and girls come to associate with “neediness” as they grow older. Vulnerability can be a liability, so instead of opening up we do the opposite – shut down and shut the world out claiming that we do not need anyone.
Act big and bad all you want but let’s face it: we want to be loved, wanted, desired, successful in our own right and genuinely happy. How can you attain all of those things by fronting and putting up defenses? I am not saying you should allow people to walk all over you, because vulnerability is not about being weak or being someone’s doormat. Nor am I saying that when you first meet someone you should go “Hi, I’m _____, and these are my fears/hopes/dreams”. But, sooner rather than later, you have to be willing to let your guard down and be real in order for relationships to move forward. In friendships and love, vulnerability is essential for to establish real connections as it requires both parties to be genuine, trusting, and honest. Without that what do you have? Let me answer that: not shit.
So, I need you to forget everything you know about being vulnerable and replace it with the following:
Vulnerability takes courage. It takes a brave soul to be completely honest and open with all of you, from your strengths and victories to your weaknesses and shortcomings. It takes courage to show your true self, flaws and all, to others. In doing so you are opening up to potential pain, but also to happiness and freedom that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
There is strength in vulnerability. Being extremely open and self-aware is powerful. Having a firm grasp on your likes, preferences, fears, needs, goals and being able to express them is a sign of strength and security with yourself as you are. You are secure, know your boundaries and can stand your ground. Yes, you are open but that does not mean you will allow people to take advantage or manipulate. It also implies that even though you love yourself, you’re still striving to improve.
Being vulnerable is cool. Everyone is always stuck on trying to be “cool” and hiding their flaws or insecurities out of fear of being judged as this or that. You are not like anybody else, and why would you want to be? Try being yourself (the real you that you are with your family and friends) and see what happens. It may be a cliche but it needs to be said because people are still out here fronting for some reason. I am a nerdy, outspoken goofball with a weird laugh and a big head and I am not sorry about it. This is my truth and I have accepted this. Accept yours.
Vulnerability is extremely sexy. I think someone who is able to be entirely transparent, aware and accepting of themselves is one of the most attractive qualities a person can possess. It is a bold move to share the good and bad parts of yourself and to trust someone not to shit all over you. Someone who exudes confidence and security in who they are and what they feel without apologizing for it is hot. It turns 6’s into 10’s everyday.
It takes a lot to consciously strive to be vulnerable and it is something I struggle with daily. We have all had an experience or two that make us hesitate to trust out of fear of being hurt and cause us to hide ourselves away. Being vulnerable will not shield you from disappointment in life, but it is more about accepting the hurt and not letting it control or limit you. Yes, being vulnerable has led me to experience deep pain, its also allowed me to feel the most joy I have ever felt. Without the lows how the hell could we ever learn to appreciate the highs?