I've had a lot of people tell me how much they appreciate my vulnerability. And to be completely honest, I am so uncomfortable with this compliment. I've never thought of myself as a vulnerable person. In fact, I have a very hard time being open with people. I will let a story move me to tears more than most people, but please don't ask me to share my own with you in person. I just can't bring myself to do it. My hands and voice shake and I become so embarrassed that I change the subject, or I leave out so many details that things just don't make sense. I'm just not good at being open.
But I have found that I can be open and honest in writing, so usually I write my deepest, most vulnerable thoughts. I post them online for people to read, or I write them in letters and give them to people to read when I'm not around. I don't think this is vulnerable. It's a bit of a copout. I am still trying to protect myself in a way, because if I want I can delete my post and it's gone forever. And the friend I sent that letter to? I just pretend like it never happened.
Our natural instinct is to act cool and indifferent, to pretend like we don't need other people so as to protect our heart when those people leave. There is nothing noble in doing this. It just hardens your heart and makes you forget how it feels to be alive. I've done some life coaching recently, and in coaching I learned one of my life themes is people disappearing from my life / people leaving. I start to panic when someone just disappears and I close myself off and pretend like it doesn't matter, but it does. People matter. Ignoring the problem doesn't actually solve it. So open your heart and be honest. Say the words first. Tell someone that you miss them, or that you're having a bad day, or that you are really just trying to figure things out. Let people see the real you. In doing this you are giving that person the opportunity to be vulnerable too. It's a beautiful gift to give someone.
If you haven't, pick up Donald Miller's book, Scary Close. It's his journey of learning how to be vulnerable. And let's all try our best to be vulnerable, online and in real life. Our friends deserve honesty from us, don't you think?
"It’s true I’ve been hurt a few times after revealing myself. There are people who lie in wait for the vulnerable and pounce as a way to feel powerful. But God forgive them. I’m willing to take the occasional blow to find people I connect with. As long as you’re willing to turn the other cheek with the mean ones, vulnerability can get you a wealth of friends. Can you imagine coming to the end of your life, being surrounded by people who loved you, only to realize they never fully knew you? Or having poems you never shared or injustices you said nothing about? Can you imagine realizing, then, it was too late? How can we be loved if we are always in hiding?" - Don Miller. Scary Close