What are the first thoughts that come to your mind when you hear the word ‘vulnerability’?
Well If you ask me, being vulnerable is something I’ve always found to be scary. So scary that I sometimes find it difficult to open up to myself and be vulnerable while journaling.
Now I know being vulnerable comes easily to some people, and I’ve always admired these people. So if you are one of them, I should say that I probably may not have much to offer you. But if you are scared of vulnerability like me, I encourage you to stick with me and read through till the end.
As I sit here writing about vulnerability, there is this nagging thought inside my head that’s questioning me, “Who am I to write about vulnerability, when it’s been something I’ve been trying to avoid for almost my entire life?”
But then again, I remind myself that as with almost all of the posts I publish on my blog, the articles I write are usually a reminder or advice to myself.
Also having put myself in vulnerable positions many times over the last couple of years while solo travelling as well as while blogging, and as someone who finds it scary, I think it makes perfect sense for me to write this. Because I feel that if I can be willing to be vulnerable, anyone can.
Before we go any further, I’d first like to clarify what I mean when I am using the word vulnerability here, especially since it can tend to be associated with lots of negative connotations.
If you Google it, here’s the first definition you will find,
“the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”
Now I hope you know that I am certainly not talking about exposing yourself to any kind of physical harm or attack.
But instead, I am using the word in the context of being willing to put yourself out there emotionally, when it can be scary, uncertain, and you don’t have control over the outcome.
Now vulnerability may mean different things for different people, and a vulnerable situation may differ for each person.
For some, it may mean expressing the depth of their feelings towards someone else, for others, it may mean putting your creative work out there in the world (to judge), and yet for others it may mean opening up and asking for help about their mental health struggles.
It can also be something much less daunting yet scary like smiling and striking up conversations with complete strangers.
However, for whatever reason, being vulnerable generally tends to be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
But the truth is, vulnerability has nothing to do with being weak because it honestly takes a lot of strength and courage to be vulnerable. And if it didn’t, most people wouldn’t have such a hard time with it.
Our brain is wired to pursue pleasure and avoid pain, and wants to avoid discomfort and uncertainty. So it comes up with terrifying reasons so that we don’t put ourselves in vulnerable positions.
Now I am not going to guarantee that putting yourself in vulnerable positions will never be painful and will always have a happy ending.
But by running away from vulnerability, we do ourselves a great disservice. As Brené Brown, a researcher who has spent nearly two decades studying topics like courage and vulnerability, says in her popular Ted Talk
“Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love,”
Being vulnerable can be incredibly rewarding and make our lives more enriching that it’s well worth the discomfort that can come along with it.
You can’t have deep and meaningful relationships or friendships without being willing to be vulnerable and transparent about your thoughts and emotions.
When you express yourself vulnerably and authentically, you connect and create a deep bond with people. You also impact others’ lives when you share your truth openly and honestly, and it produces a ripple effect and empowers others to share their truth as well.
Since I’ve started blogging, there has been a few times in particular when I’ve felt uncomfortable in sharing certain aspects of myself, mostly out of fear of judgement. But when I’ve gone ahead despite the fear and done it, I’ve realised that nothing really happens.
And what I mean by that is that, none of the fears I had in my head materialises. Instead, on some occasions, people have come forward and opened up about how they have felt and gone through similar experiences.
If you closely examine, at the heart of this fear of vulnerability, is our own self-concern.
And once you let go of that fear (which may be difficult) or move ahead despite that fear, you stop holding yourself back from the things that you want to do.
Because the truth is, most times there is no force out there stopping or controlling our behaviours from doing what we want, except our own fears and worries.
Now learning to be vulnerable may most certainly not happen overnight and that’s okay. What’s important is that we consciously put in the effort and take it one step at a time.
What are your thoughts on vulnerability? I'd like to hear from you in the comments below.
Note : In this article, I am certainly not advocating being vulnerable for the sake of it, but when the situation requires it or on occasions when that’s what your heart nudges you to do, but your mind is trying to talk you out of it.
Here is The Ted Talk by Brene’ Brown on the subject titled, ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, which is one of the top 10 most viewed TED talks in the world with almost 30 million views.
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