There is this topic that's come up recently in conversations with family and friends. It's the topic of vulnerability. A recurring thought that's been shared between myself and those I'm talking to is the feeling that vulnerability is something to be feared. That if you're vulnerable, you're weak. And if you're weak, you will be ridiculed, taken advantage of and the respect of others will be lost.
|At a college football game about 2 weeks after we started dating|
Shortly after my husband and I started dating, I went on a week long trip for a college class. Our dating relationship was new and fragile. But we were committed to keeping in touch during this trip, so we had 2 or 3 hour long conversations every night before we went to bed. We discussed everything from our favorite movies to our least favorite foods (coleslaw and potato salad, in case you were wondering). Sometimes we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. And other times, we talked about things that were so personal that one or both of us didn't say anything for a long time while we simply tried to process the words that had been spoken. Those were the things that really started building our foundation. Now that we are married, it's still hard to talk about certain topics. But the fact that we keep trying to be vulnerable with each other is something that keeps us together.
It also affects our ability to make new and lasting friendships, because if we never get past the formalities of "where are you from" and "what do you like to do", then you never talk about the deeper topics, such as current challenges and childhood struggles that are still affecting you today. Again, that opportunity to really connect with another person is lost. When I was in college, I met one of my best friends. We immediately connected. If you were to ask us when we became friends, neither of us could tell you because it's as though we've always been friends. Even so, it wasn't until we helped each other through difficult breakups or challenging situations that we began to cement our relationship. If one of us walked into the apartment and found the other one crying, there wasn't a rush to hide it and pretend everything was ok. We talked about it. We cried together. We were there for each other. Today, we live in different states. We don't talk as much as we used to and our lives are busy. But when we do talk, or we do see each other, it's like we were never apart. That is what being vulnerable does.
|A picture from my senior year of high school|
Be strong. Be vulnerable. They aren't conflicting qualities. Yes. Being vulnerable is scary. It's uncomfortable. It's doesn't come easy. It's something that I have to remind myself of daily, sometimes out loud. Sometimes it comes from my husband or my kids. Other times, it's a friend who tells me that I can do it because they'll do it with me. It's ok to try. It's ok to fail. It's how we grow and learn and live.