What Does Vulnerability Mean To You + 3 Reasons Why You Need It
Reading time: 5 minutes
When I think of the word “vulnerability” or "what it means to be vulnerable", I immediately think of inspiring and empowering women like Brené Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Danielle LaPorte, etc. Some of my favorite people in the world.
Storytellers, writers, authors, speakers, soul seekers, and women who speak the truth and from their heart.
Sharing your truth can be extremely scary. ...I know it is for me.
It’s scary to talk about things when you don’t know how other people are going to react to it. I’m sure it’s extremely scary to talk about topics that dig even deeper like mental illness, domestic violence, homelessness, etc.
There are a few topics that hit close to home for me - body image and unconditionally loving myself, the few years when I was in a deep depression and struggled to get out of bed every day, and one that I recently learned about myself - my money story.
Because it’s not easy.
I don’t want to tell people I have self-worth issues and money fears that run deeper than I thought possible, but I also know that pretending these things don’t affect me isn’t going to help either.
What about you?
You don’t have to tell me your story. In fact, you don’t have to tell anyone your story.
But shining a light on them helps a lot. Getting a second opinion (from people who know what they’re talking about - and have been there themselves) does wonders. Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you can’t fix something you’re not aware of.
You can pretend something’s not there, but it’s still going to be there.
Self-awareness is uncomfortable and it’s not always fun, but if you want to grow and expand, it’s the way. And the way is through.
Vulnerability means something different to everyone.
It can be being in a relationship where you have no control over how the other person acts or reacts. It can be applying for jobs and not knowing how the process is going to go. It can be speaking in front of an audience and not being sure how the audience will react.
It can be you sharing your story - with full transparency and an open heart - and not having control over how people react.
What I love about all the women I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this post is how much they worked on who they are, their message, and authenticity.
As Brené Brown says in her book, Daring Greatly, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.”
Vulnerability is never a weakness, even when it feels scary and uncomfortable.
And it’s going to feel scary and uncomfortable - but it’s going to help your people understand you even more. It’s going to help them love you even more. And it’s going to show you the type of people you want and don’t want it your life.
I don’t know about you, but I want to surround myself with people I can talk to until 4 am. Maybe even until sunrise. I want friends in my life who I can go without seeing for an extended amount of time and we can pick right where we left off because we have that connection - because we’ve both done the work and we’re excited about digging deep and going beyond just the surface level stuff. Because I really, really love talking about the deep stuff.
As one of my dear friends puts it, I’m a mermaid and I like to swim in the deep ocean.
So what does vulnerability mean to you?
And why does it matter?
What does it look like, feel like, and sound like?
These are all questions for you to ask yourself, and it may take some time and a whole lotta inner work to get to your truth.
And that’s okay. Take your time. Enjoy the process. Remember to be kind to yourself (real talk - I struggle with this a lot.)
If you’re on the fence about vulnerability, here are 3 reasons why vulnerability is essential:
1. Connection + Community
Think about your best friend. How did that friendship come to be? How did it grow and what do you know about that person? Probably a lot.
We share our stories with those we trust and like. We’ve learned to not share our stories with everyone, because not everyone deserves them. Speaking of which, I absolutely love Brené Brown’s take on this:
“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”
When we share the stories that are closest to other hearts, we know that there’s a strong possibility that we’re being seen, heard, and loved. And I believe that’s what we all want and desire - to be seen, heard, and loved. We want to know that we matter to people and that we’re enough.
In one sense or another, we want to feel validated.
But if you don’t ever share your story with anyone, how will people be able to see and hear you? How will they love you? And more importantly, how will you love yourself?
I know it’s scary, but we all need that human connection.
(Related: 12 Ways We Can Support Other Women)
When we’re being vulnerable, we put ourselves out there - for judgment, rejection, and the chance that someone might not like us or what we have to say. That’s what we’re risking, but the rewards are so, so much better.
Because we might also be getting something greater in return - love, appreciation, trust, empathy, connection.
You get a deeper sense of who you are. And even if you might not like or understand it now, you will someday. You will understand why your story matters - and why authentic storytelling is so essential for all our hearts. You will begin to accept yourself - your flaws, imperfections, and struggles - truly.
Whenever you do something, it’s hard in the beginning. It can even be extremely terrifying, but it gets easier along the way. So you start to love yourself a bit more, you start to feel a little more confident, and you start to claim your space in the world.
You stop apologizing and start celebrating. Celebrate who you are and those around you.
We are all worthy.
This goes along with the last point, but when we step into vulnerability, a lot of emotions, fears, and resistance comes up. Probably at the same time - it’s basically like a tornado.
But in the end, when everything calms down and all is left, there is love. True love - for yourself, others, and the world around you.
Throughout this journey, you begin to learn essential life lessons like how to heal, forgive, trust, and love again. The stories that you had within you 10 years ago are not the same stories you have now. And the stories you have within you now are not going to be the same stories you’ll have in 5 years.
At the expense of sounding like a total cliché, listen to your heart and follow your intuition.
It will always help guide you back to yourself. To find your ground again, to do what matters, and to be the woman you truly desire to be.
So what does vulnerability mean to you, and why does it matter? I’d love it if you would share your thoughts and a bit of your heart with me in the comments below.