We Are Afraid Of Showing Vulnerability

f3edefdfc62c6ec086fbd393d5c3291cI was sitting in a tutorial last week, and my dear friend said something that was so gold and rang with so much truth. We were supposed to be having a class discussion about social media dating, but it somehow led to social media, friendship and uni life. I raised my hand and said, “I feel like it’s hard to make friends at uni sometimes because I’ve had experiences of introducing myself to other people, just being friendly and I get the feeling that they’re not interested, that they think they’re too cool for this.” It raises the thoughts about how we make friends now, how we interact with people and self-presentation of having everything ‘together’ online. The people I’ve got to know more and felt blessed to meet at uni, have been the ones where we weren’t afraid to be vulnerable and weren’t afraid to open up. Friendship is about being able to open ourselves up, and show that we don’t have it all together, and that’s okay.

My friend said that there are a lot of people who are scared to be vulnerable. There are lots of people who are trying to show that they don’t need to make new friends because they’re not lonely and they’ve got their own group of friends already. The idea of appearing cool and seeming like you have it all together is so much more common than we know. When I used to read the UOA meaningful confession page, there were so many people that talked about feeling lonely, talked about feeling lost and talked about the difficulty of making friends at uni. Showing sensitivity, vulnerability, and emotions are strangely often thought of as weaknesses. Ultimately, they give us the greatest connection and strength with people. However, we live in a society that hides behind a wall of expressing our emotions. I truly think this is why mental health, from anxiety and depression, are affecting more and more young people.

Growing up, I rarely said ‘I love you’ to my parents. An aspect that may play in part to this, is that generally speaking, in Chinese culture, we don’t tend to express those feelings. The love tends to be shown through one’s actions. It wasn’t until my parents separated, and after I left home that I would always make sure to say ‘I love you’ before saying goodbye. I read here, that Any strength that lies outside of vulnerability is a façade built by fear. There is so much truth to that because the true strength one expresses comes from the heart. It is honest and doesn’t hide behind a wall. What we think in our mind, is the reality we create and the world that we see. Every person is a sensitive being. When my blog was starting to be read by wonderful bloggers like you, I felt vulnerable because I share so much here that I don’t tend to talk about very often in my daily life.

It made me think about how much people could know about my hurts, scars, and weaknesses. Then there is this gentle reminder, that everyone is going through the same. Everyone has their own hurt, their own battles, their own weaknesses and their own seasons of ups and downs. Coming back to Social Media, I do find that it’s easy to build an image of happiness. However, in reality, we all have things that we need the courage and faith to open up about. Nobody is perfect, no matter what it seems. More than ever, I think Social Media can sometimes be a reflection of the fears that we have. The feeling of not belonging, the fear of rejection and the need to be accepted. We may deny it, but this goes back to when I said about it being hard sometimes to make friends at uni. When my dear friend sat beside me, she was plucking up the courage, even if that meant the risk of rejection. I’m grateful because she’s one of my closest friends.

A memory that sparks to mind, is when I first started attending a church. I remember going to sit by someone, and she ended up being a lovely friend of mine. At the time, we discovered that we were neighbours. I think we always have to take a risk because it could lead to something great. If it doesn’t, at least you tried and didn’t wonder what if? You have to know in your heart, that you are good enough, you are beautiful enough, you are intelligent enough without the need for external validation. As sensitive souls, we are constantly interacting with people every day, and the thing that divides us from others is if we think they are against us. If we fear judgment then we may end up judging the person, or closing ourselves off from them. It can be hard, but if we learn to gradually open up our hearts, that is when we build true connections.

When you are vulnerable, you are embracing the ability to be your true self.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova

6 thoughts on “We Are Afraid Of Showing Vulnerability

  1. Such an honest post about feeling and being vulnerable in the modern day, Katie. Opening up takes time, and I think it also takes a while for many of us before we open up our honest thoughts to each other. I think your friend is right when saying many people are scared of showing vulnerability – they are afraid of being judged for who they really are. Personally it takes me a while to warm to others around me…I usually feel more comfortable with others if I can connect with them or if I can feel that they respect me for the person I am and my choices.

  2. Thai families are the same. I grew up with “I love you’s” or hugs. In fact, I remember when I started to hug my mother and the realization that we didn’t do this often. I’ve brought my American-ness to Thailand and hug my female relatives, but the male ones won’t do it.

    Vulnerability is an endlessly fascinating topic – probably because it’s such a challenge. I feel like I’ve always been brave and vulnerable. It’s how I did make friends, close friends, and if nothing else, a good story to tell. I just walk up and start talking. I actually find it creeper on the Internet. Hahahahaha. But I know that is the current way that things are done.

    I’ve watched that Bene Brown speech a few times and tears always come to my eyes. We try so hard to appear tough and pulled together, when in actuality friendships are truly formed when life gets tough. Right? That’s when you decide who your true friends are. But, of course, people are more complex than that – I understand why folks build a wall.

    1. I feel like you’d give the warmest hugs! I’m glad to hear that. I think vulnerability is so important, but naturally, we all have different levels of what and who we are willing to share and open up to. I agree, I really do think true friendship are the people who are there for you not only for the good times but during those tough times too.

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