It seems to me that just about every part of vulnerability is hard.
I’ve watched and been a part of daring feats of vulnerability in the last week, and although I’d like to say I’m a proponent of the stuff, the honesty and pure courage of the thing has me wanting to crawl right back into a hole.
Vulnerability is the moment when you’ve come out from hiding with the ugliest you have to offer. It’s the moment when your façade is down and all of the makeup has been rubbed off of your scars.
It’s the moment when people are too close for comfort — when they’re leaned so far into your bubble that no amount of layers or good lighting can disguise the things you want to keep hidden.
Vulnerability, by definition, isn’t safe. It’s that place where you’re open to attack — where people could actually hurt you if they decided to try. It’s the place where you have no defenses left, where your deepest stuff is out on the line.
Vulnerability feels like a recurring naked dream — the one where you inexplicably find yourself in your high school cafeteria without pants.
It’s the feeling you get after you shared a piece of your work that felt like a piece of your very soul out on display. It’s the moment when you’ve pressed “send” or “publish” or dropped the piece off at the gallery, or invited feedback — where you realize that somebody’s actually going to be critiquing this exceedingly tender piece of your heart.
And it’s at approximately that moment that you begin to feel like the dumbest person in the world for opening that up in the first place.
In the last week, my relationships here in Georgia have taken a serious turn for the deeper. My roommates and I have very seriously decided to make our friendships a priority, and that takes some work.
Tonight we made dinner together and talked and laughed over grilled cheeses filled with pear, balsamic and brie. We sipped sparkling wine and devoured Stephanie’s homemade strawberry shortcake as we listened to each other’s updates on the recent bits of life.
And then we sat together, facing each other on our newly arranged couches — our centerpiece a pumpkin candle that captures the essence of this fall season perfectly.
And we allowed each other in.
One by one we let the others into our personal space — to lean into our bubbles, past the miraculous workings of good lighting.
We allowed each other to speak into the things that are hard, and sometimes unspeakable — to point out truth where sometimes it feels like there is none.
At the end of the night we laid dog-piled on one of the couches while Stephanie prayed. It was a bold, truthful prayer, and at that moment, our “new” apartment started to actually feel like home.
But as I picked up my things and turned off the last of the lights, I began to feel just the tiniest bit sick. I had let them in — to sacred space, to hurt places, to places that I rarely let anyone into.
And although they had taken great care with the treasures I entrusted to them — it still felt scary, and I still felt kind of sick.
And I think that this is how vulnerability is. It doesn’t feel safe because it isn’t.
But it’s in that moment that you get to do the courageous work of trusting another person.
Our lives are made rich by the connections within them. We need each other — need to be interwoven and amongst community around a table. It’s a need as ingrained in us as our fingerprints to desire that kind of connection, and vulnerability is the best way to actually create something real.
Sure it takes trust, and sure it could blow up in your face, but the best, most courageous things usually fit that description.
Vulnerability is a choice we make every single day, in every one of our relationships — the decision to open up and to be seen.
And yes, it’s scary, and yes, it often leaves you with that slightly sick feeling in your stomach.
But we have to come out of hiding for us to be seen, and only when we’re seen can we truly be loved.
What parts of your life do you find yourself hiding? What could happen if you let people in?