A few weeks ago, I wrote about vulnerability in this post. At the time, the subject, the TEDtalk, the word “vulnerability”, I don’t know what it was but something hit a chord with me. I always considered myself a pretty emotional person. I don’t hide my feelings well, and for the most part, that still rings true. When I’m mad, you see it on my face. When I’m irritated or frustrated, you can hear it in my voice. When I’m shy or uncomfortable, you can see it in my body language. But I realized something in the past few days…
As a 32 year old, college-educated, well-together, single woman, I’m often confronted with those unavoidable questions: “How are you still single? Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” blah, blah, *eye roll*. I always play it off, because how else do you handle those questions you don’t know the answers to yourself? I will still continue to play it off, because now that I think I know the answer, it’s too personal to share in a casual conversation.
I’ve realized that vulnerability is not one of my strong suits. In a conversation with my sister about dating, I said, “I don’t want to appear needy or desperate.” In my efforts to appear confident and independent, I do not show any signs of interest in the men I meet either. I’m not a flirty person. I am shy and far less confident than I want to lead on, and I’m far more expressive and honest about my emotions in writing. You can call it “putting on a front”, but I don’t see it that way. I don’t need a man. I’ve come a long way in creating the life I have on my own.
I was a different person in my last relationship. I was young, depressed, and still figuring out who I was and what I wanted. I was hiding things from myself and my family. I was scared of admitting I was no longer, if I was ever in love, and afraid of getting my heart broken – but it happened anyway. And it was for the best.
I’m happy with where I am at in my life. I’ve earned that happiness in more ways than I can explain and by overcoming difficult obstacles not worthy of an Internet confession. But as Brené Brown concluded, vulnerability is the birthplace of love. We have to be vulnerable, to allow ourselves to be seen to engage in human connection. And human connection is what gives our lives purpose. Human connection is love.
Self discovery is so enlightening. We may like what we find and we may not, but either way it’s what you make of it. I’m happy I discovered I need to work on being a little more vulnerable, although I’m not so enthused that I actually have to be vulnerable.
But last night, I exposed myself to the unknown. I took a risk. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. The short-term outcome was what I expected, so I’m not disappointed. I’m actually a little relieved. But the long-term outcome remains unknown, and that’s okay. Vulnerability is simply letting your guard down a little. It’s asking for help, getting a new job, making new friends, trying something new. The first step is always the hardest.