The most beautiful quality in any human being is the ability to be vulnerable. It is an energy that opens hearts, creates connections, and enables us to love. It allows our lives to be real, deep, and powerful.
But oh boy, do we struggle with it.
Vulnerability has been a constant battle for me. Recently, I have actively been pushing myself to be vulnerable. It has been an equally tough and beautiful journey of unwrapping my strong exterior and letting the softer parts of my heart be revealed.
The hardest part of vulnerability for me has been admitting that I’m not perfect. I don’t have my life together all the time. Fear still knocks me down. Sometimes I feel insecure. Some days I hate my body. I have weeks where all I want to do is stay in bed, eat tubs of ice cream, and watch The Bachelor on repeat. I doubt myself.
Even admitting that makes me vulnerable.
Why can’t I say “I’m struggling”, or “I can’t do this”, or “I need help”? Why is it that we must give the rest of the world the impression that we are always ok? That we’re fine; that even after our boyfriend has left us, or we can’t pay our rent, or we failed an exam, that we still have it all together.
I recently went through a really tough break up, and the first time I sat down with my best friend afterwards, I got slammed with some big vulnerability lessons.
I went into our coffee date all smiles. Everything is fine, it was the right decision, we’re going to stay friends. Five minutes later, I was a crying, blubbering, blotchy mess. I found myself unable to control the emotions that I had been holding at bay. All of the sickness, sadness, and grief over the break up came bursting out in snot, tears, and honesty.
At first, I was embarrassed. Who I wanted to be had collided with the real me, and for some reason I thought that my beautiful friend would think less of me for it. Instead, she ordered me a slice of cake. Bless her heart.
After coffee, cake, laughter, and a walk home in the sunshine, I realised how much better I felt. The knot that had made a home for itself in the pit of my stomach more than a week ago seemed to have left, and something inside me felt lighter. I felt softer. I felt real. I felt like me.
The experience really got me thinking though.
What’s the alternative to being real, raw, vulnerable human beings? Suppressing who we are? Hiding our feelings on the inside? Having to keep up the act that our lives are peachy days and happy nights when really we don’t know if we’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow?
It’s not good enough. Since when has it been ok to not acknowledge, express, or feel what is on our hearts? And what’s so bad about that anyway? If truly letting ourselves feel our emotions was a sign of deep strength rather than worthlessness or weakness, wouldn’t we be all do it more often?
I’m trying, everyday, to be more vulnerable. To live in the present, in who I am, and in what is on my heart. I want to own that. Sure, it’s hard. I struggle to let myself be ok with sadness, with regret, and with loss everyday, but I try anyway.
To me, the most important lesson is to be real. I want to live authentically, honestly, and with an open heart. It may never feel safe to be vulnerable, but if what we get out of vulnerability is connection, life-giving hope, unfailing love, and intimate human relationships, it’s worth the risk, isn’t it?
Shannon is a 21 year old wannabe writer, interested in fashion, travel, books, theatre, food, and good company. She recently graduated from a Bachelor of Arts, with majors in English Literature and Writing. Early in 2013, she was engaged by Marist Youth Ministry as a regional intern. This role has been a diverse and life-giving one for Shannon, and has given her the passion, dedication, and heart for continuing in ministry and journeying with young people as they encounter Jesus Christ in their lives.