“I’m not fine” is a state of mind we hardly admit but often feel; there is shame and stigma attached to it. We are constantly pressured to have ourselves all together, to have things figured out, and to have reached milestones by certain life stages. Over coffee with our friends we talk about our successes and the happy parts of our lives, but have we ever felt comfortable to be vulnerable even to our closest friends? To share our struggles and emotions without feeling judged? Are we in doubt that they will care or that they will not criticize us?
I find that the strongest relationships I have are the ones where we are open and honest about our successes and our struggles; it forms a kind of connection that isn’t superficial. Vulnerability doesn’t come easy for many reasons, be it societal pressure to look a certain way, the stigma of mental health, the worry of burdening our loved ones or even our own denial. I’m no Brené Brown, but here are five reasons why I practice vulnerability.
1. You find that you are not alone.
In vulnerability, you will find that you are not alone—you rarely are. Our struggles may not look the same, as we are all in different stages of our lives and circumstances, but we all feel those human emotions—anxiety, worry, dread, brokenness, uncertainty, insecurity, and sadness. No one is immune to it. We can all relate to each other’s struggles in one way or another.
2. It’s cathartic.
Sometimes when I’m alone in my room and I feel so overwhelmed with all the demands of life, I just break down and cry. I don’t force myself to cry, what I mean is when I feel like I could cry from all the weight, I don’t stop myself; I just let the ugly cry flow. I am human, after all. After it, I feel renewed. My troubles didn’t go away, but I feel like they don’t have the same weight because I admitted to myself what they were and how much they were affecting me. When you recognize and take ownership, it feels more manageable, and you can then take the next step to figure out how to resolve it.
3. You get to know yourself more and your inner strength.
When you self-reflect, recognize your feelings and become honest with yourself, you will find strength. Sometimes it’s easier to deny emotions we feel and pretend while it takes strength to be honest and say, “I’m not okay, I am feeling angry,” and talk about it.
4. You find help and love.
Some of my writing reflects my most vulnerable state. I believe that the kind of expression that writing offers is how we can connect and reach out to other people. When I write to share my experiences and the lessons it taught me, it becomes my love letter to the world saying, “You know what? I feel your pain too. But there are lessons and hope in it. Let’s look together.” Occasionally I get messages from people saying that my writing helped them, and during that moment of vulnerability, we have helped each other to heal. Imagine if you could practice this same kind of vulnerable expression to a loved one—you can only gain genuine love, kindness, and even strength in your moment of weakness.
5. You strengthen the bond of your relationships.
As much as vulnerability is a sign of inner strength, vulnerability within your relationships can strengthen your bonds. It shows you the people who you can truly trust and who sincerely care for you. When you become vulnerable with your loved ones, you are claiming a safe space between the two of you; when you start to talk openly, the other person will talk openly too. When we dive in and show this raw and vulnerable version of ourselves and share our deeply personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings, with no pretense or filters, we then begin to create one of the deepest connections we can have with another person.
To be vulnerable and open to another person won’t come easy, especially if you haven’t or if you have built walls between you and the world. It’s hard to trust people when you’ve been betrayed, disappointed or brokenhearted. I know, I’ve been there too. But there are good people out there, and I believe that they care for you too. So take a leap of faith, believe in them, and be honest. You can even just start with being honest with yourself. I was never open about my feelings with the people I trusted and loved the most before. In time, little by little, I did, and it has made me feel lighter because I am seen and known for who I really am. My relationships also strengthened because we saw each other on a deeper and more genuine level. On an individual level, I grew more in emotional intelligence and can seek help when I need it. It changed my life, and it can change yours too.