If you look it up, the definition of vulnerability is "easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally or emotionally" or "open to attack, harm, or damage." With that kind of definition, It's no wonder we, as humans, tend to do whatever we can to not look or seem vulnerable.
When we first moved to Portland, Matt and I started talking about how hard it is to make friends - friends like the ones you grew up with or went to college with - when you are an "adult.". He wondered if it was because nobody wanted to allow themselves to be vulnerable - to, for a second, not live up to that idea that as adults, we have it all figured out. Honestly, I think we can probably all agree that nobody has it all figured out, even the ones with close-to-perfect Facebook feeds, Instagram posts, and LinkedIn profiles, or Beyonce and T. Swift. So what really holds us back from sharing that part of ourselves, that might not be perfect and all put-together?
It was definitely different when we were little, when being vulnerable came more naturally. I remember, as a sixth grader, I was already pretty uncomfortable at school dances, because I really did not have rhythm and could not figure out how to move my hips and look good (still haven't quite figured this out?!). Luckily, my best friend Marlene, happened to be the best dancer in the world and I asked her to teach me. She spent quite a bit of time working with me on moves and I felt so awkward about the whole thing, but I let her in, and accepted her help. It didn't quite make me the star of the dance floor, but experiences like that brought us closer together and helped us to create a ridiculously strong friendship, one that exists to this day.
More recently, I accidentally was in a vulnerable position with a new friend that I had kind of just met in my new building. Basically, I locked myself out of my apartment. It was the first time I have ever really lived alone and I was kind of freaking out at 11pm when I still wasn't sure how I would get in to take care of Nessa,. She helped me find a locksmith and stayed with me until the whole thing was resolved, which was probably way after midnight. When it was over, I walked into my apartment and was pretty certain that this was someone that I was going to be a great friend. Was I comfortable letting her into this moment with me, especially since I probably had only known her all of a week? No, I wasn't. Not. At. All. But I believe allowing myself to be vulnerable (did I really have a choice!?) and accepting her help and presence in that moment, created some sort of bond that we can build a friendship on.
I had promised myself I would be completely open and honest in writing here, and in a way, it is really vulnerable. One of the things I have been most surprised by, that I didn't expect at all, is the people who reached out to me - via text, private message, or in comments - as a result of reading one of my first three entries, sharing their stories and vulnerability with me. Even if it's been over a decade since I've seen or talked to any of them, I felt immediately closer and it's because we were both in that space of allowing ourselves the freedom to say and write and feel okay about not having it figured out.
One of the quotes in my Inspiration section which I have found to be very true is, "being vulnerable and sharing a story gives others permission to share." I love that. I feel that. And if I could add a third definition to the dictionary for vulnerability, it would be something like this: opening yourself up to what may feel uncomfortable, scary, or unknown; may lead to stronger connections and relationships with others, including yourself.