Vulnerable—I used to associate that word with weakness, and I don’t want to be associated with such a thing.
I am strong and unbreakable because I put so much pressure on myself to always remain that way, as do many people in my life.
But if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that being vulnerable and open is the opposite of weakness. Being vulnerable is a whole other level of strength.
So here I go. Here is my best attempt at being vulnerable:
I am a shy, quiet and private person. I would say that I am an emotional individual but am selective with whom I choose to share with. I am just not a big “sharer.” So I smile, and keep it all locked away because if there is even the smallest crack, it might come flooding out. And who wants that? Who wants to be vulnerable? Eek! Such a scary word. Probably the one thing that scares me the most.
Definition of vulnerable: Susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. Synonyms: helpless, defenseless, powerless, weak.
What!? This is the definition of vulnerable? No wonder I have such a dislike for the term. Who wants to be associated with that? I would like to change my perception of this word to a quote that I recently read.
“Heart to heart conversations are the best to me. Everyone’s vulnerable. Vulnerability attracts honesty, honesty attracts soul connections.”
Vulnerability attracts honesty. Isn’t that the truth? Being honest with myself, about my feelings, about what I want, who I want to be, the people I want in my life. Being honest about all of those topics kind of feels like being completely naked. Naked in front of everyone, open to judgment, open to emotional attack. I like to think that I don’t care about what people think of me, but if I am being honest, I do. I think everyone is guilty of judging others and of having perceptions of who they are and how they act. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to live up to those expectations even when they aren’t things that are true to who I really am, or what I am really feeling.
People in my close circle expect me to be strong, they look to me when they need help. I am the one who always keeps it together—on the surface, anyway. I think that most of my loved ones and close friends will be surprised to hear about the personal struggles I have faced and still manage. I guess I am too scared to tell them, afraid of letting them down, of their perceptions of me changing. I am afraid to let myself down. And I always thought if I just kept it buried and hidden away, that I wouldn’t have to deal with it, wouldn’t have to acknowledge my feelings. But in doing so, this only led to my anxiety and depression.
So here I am. This is me.
Completely naked, open, with my heart on my sleeves. Vulnerable for everyone to see. It’s terrifying but feels pretty damn good too.
“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” ~ Jim Morrison
A while back, I decided to go after my dreams and goals and embarked on a journey of self-discovery. At the time I didn’t realize how difficult this would be, otherwise I might have run in the opposite direction or stayed numb in the comfort of the known and familiar life I already had. Through this and other life lessons I have learned some important things.
Firstly, that I had put up many “physical walls” around my body to keep all of those unwanted feelings hidden away. Once you break those walls down, it can be quite overwhelming and freeing at the same time. I am learning to let go of what people think of me. I am learning to put myself first.
Also, self-love, self-acceptance and self-care are some of the most important things to master in this lifetime. How lucky for me, to have discovered this at a young(ish) age.
It is true what they say, about how everything you want is on the other side of fear. And I continue to be grateful and to keep pushing myself beyond my comfort level, into the open, strong arms of vulnerability.
Author: Jodi Fraser
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Marko Milošević/Flickr