Vulnerability, adj., susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
I used to think I was pretty good at being vulnerable and honest with people. A couple of drinks with friends or a conversation that goes a little too late into the night and I will share my deepest fears with people. I tell them about my issues with my parents, how I fear I will never find love because of past experiences. I can easily talk about my insecurities, my biggest what-ifs, and dreams. My closest friends have even seen me at my complete lowest, heartbroken and crying and generally a mess.
I don’t have a problem with vulnerability.
Except… I do. Vulnerability, in conjunction with matters of the heart, is a landmine of pain, trauma, and anxiety.
I hate telling people how I feel about them. I confronting and letting them know they hurt me or that I find something flawed about our relationship. I hate telling my crushes I like them. I hate being honest with my feelings. I hate opening myself up like this because I’m afraid of rejection, or worse, abandonment, of the people I care the most about deciding to leave.
I don’t even like being vulnerable with my therapist because that means confronting the ugliest parts of myself. I mean, the dictionary defines vulnerability as “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm” and no one wants to get hurt.
But, vulnerability cultivates healthy relationships through honesty and transparency. We, as humans, struggle with it because we have so much love to give but we fear getting our hearts broken. Especially in millennial dating culture, we have such a fear of heartbreak that we lie and never really commit to one another. We never really show people how much we care because we’re afraid of them taking our love and leaving us behind. We never really learned how to have healthy relationships with people because we grew up on fairy tales and Disney Channel movies with happy endings.
But I’m tired of living in this state, fearing intimacy with someone else and letting it affect our relationship. I realized that if I want to become a better, happier person, the kind that exudes sunshine, I need to work on the art of vulnerability, no matter how hard it may be.