The other day I had some time on my hands, so I sat down on the computer and started watching some Ted Talks. I landed on one about vulnerability, and I thought it was very poignant. The speaker is Brené Brown, who researches human condition. She’s also the author of one of my favorite books, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms.
I jotted down a couple of notes. Here’s what I have. “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. Be willing to say I love you. Be willing to do something where there are no guarantees. Be willing to invest in a relationship that may not work out.” I also wrote down, “You are imperfect and you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
So then I thought, what exactly is vulnerability? It’s the state of being open to injury, or appearing as you are. It might be emotional, like admitting that you’re in love with someone who might only like you as a friend. So…we’ve all been there. We’ve loved people who haven’t loved us. But have we said anything about it? Oftentimes not, because being vulnerable is scary.
In my life, I try to build the toughest of exteriors around myself, and I honestly make it tough for people to get to know me. I’m strong, strong, strong. I won’t break. Because breaking is being vulnerable, right? And vulnerability means weakness, right? Wrong.
For example, I was in a serious relationship in college. He left me and broke my heart, and I closed myself off for years. I didn’t let anyone near my heart. I thought I was just keeping myself safe. But in reality, I was just pushing everyone away to maintain control.
Here’s how I know that. Months ago, I chose to try reality television to find love. I thought, let me abandon shame and fear. Let me be vulnerable. Here’s my chance to put myself out there (trust me, that was hard). I opened my heart wide. I put my trust in someone to take care of my heart, and even though there was a chance of failure, I opened myself up to hurt and rejection.
You all know what happened. I was rejected, and, in turn, heartbroken. Was that a failure? It might look like it. But it wasn’t. I realize my vulnerability wasn’t and isn’t a weakness – it’s strength. It takes guts to put your heart out there, to give your heart to someone who could break it, but to trust that they won’t. It takes guts to expose all that you are.
But there’s a consolation. There will be someone who loves you. There will be someone who will take your heart and cherish it, and they’ll return the favor and give their heart to you. Someone will expose himself or herself back to you, and all of the rejection and pain will be worth it. Remember, the greatest risk in life is love, and to love is to be vulnerable.