The Gift of Being Vulnerable, Part One

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It was hard for me to even contemplate writing this. I was raised with an utmost value for privacy – it’s no one else’s business what goes on inside your home. When things are hard, you handle them yourself. Additionally, I feel like I’ve regretted being vulnerable in the past. When you let people see the hurting, ugly parts of yourself, you give them the power to reject you, hurt you. I regretted it so much that I closed myself off from people and kept myself from sharing things, both good and bad, that are going on in my life. I’ve been thinking a lot lately, though, and I’ve decided that I want to try being more open, more vulnerable.

The Gift of Being Vulnerable Part 1Why?

I’ve started an online business that attempts to engage people who want to learn new things. In learning, we open ourselves and become vulnerable, and it’s not fair to ask of others what I’m not willing to do myself.

I’ve chosen to participate in this blog where we’re all admitting that we struggle and need to sometimes turn to others to find the right answers. In thinking about what kind of blogger I want to be, I thought about my favorite bloggers, people who write and really move me (Beth Woolsey  and Allie Brosh, to name a couple), I see writers who share very vulnerable parts of themselves.

Allowing Others to Really See Me

I was in the car with a friend who had gone through a traumatic experience in her life a few years ago. She asked me how I was doing, and I broke down talking about the things that were overwhelming me. Even though I thought I was putting up an admirable front, she said she suspected that I’d been struggling. She reminded me that I had been there for her at a dark time in her life, and said that she would be so happy to be there for me. That’s when this idea of seeing that allowing others to be there for us as a gift started to germinate in my mind.

This idea, of vulnerability as a gift, was reinforced recently when a) I asked this same friend to come over and help me organize my home office (one of the banes of my existence!), and it was kind of fun – for her and me; and b) Another friend was feeling overwhelmed by getting ready for an event at her home, so I offered to come help. I’m a crap organizer, but what she really needed was a cheerleader and a sounding board, so I was able to actually be helpful. Like the symbiotic relationships of the animal kingdom, my feeling helpful by providing support to this friend boosted my own confidence in being a useful person in this world.

Even knowing all this, it’s still hard to open myself up and share where things aren’t going well, and where I need help. After all, wouldn’t you rather be the “Wow! Look how strong she is! Isn’t she handling this well?” as opposed to “Wow! That really sucks. I’m so sorry.” Or what I really fear, “Oh no. Not her again. All she does is talk about how awful things are. I don’t feel like talking to her right now.”? But how warm do you feel towards those strong people, how well do you feel like you know them, when they don’t share the struggle behind the strength?

What do you think about letting yourself be vulnerable? About others being vulnerable with you? What about bloggers – do you prefer reading writers who are willing to be vulnerable with you? If so, if not – why? Maybe I’ll try this vulnerability thing out on the blog next month?

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7 comments

  1. Shala Howell says:

    Great post, Victoria. I also worry about the “Oh no. Not her again. All she does is talk about how awful things are. I don’t feel like talking to her right now.” Especially in the dark times. But I can’t just dump everything on my husband all the time either. And loads are easier when shared. Yours. Mine. Ours.

    • Maggie says:

      I think everything comes in seasons. Our darkest moments normally pass and hopefully our rough spots don’t coincide too closely with the rough spots of our friends and supporters, so someone has capacity to support us through those darkest moments.

    • Victoria says:

      I really appreciate that, especially coming from you, Shala! I totally agree about burdens being lighter when shared and about not dumping it all on a spouse. I’m kind of like a teeter-totter with my spouse-sharing balance. Sometimes too much, sometimes too little, but he’s the same way, and it seems to be working so far. Hopefully it will continue to!

  2. Shawn says:

    I’m certainly not an expert blogger, but I know that my posts where I tell a personal story and am vulnerable as to what is really going on in my life are the ones that people resonate with. People read blogs, not just for information, but to feel normal. Being vulnerable is good for you and your readers. Nice job with finding the courage to do that again. My most popular blog post had one negative comment and for a second it really bothered me…but just for a second. I knew I shared a story that was useful for many, so getting “hurt” by the one was a price I was willing to pay.

    • Maggie says:

      Yes! And folks also read for connection, something that isn’t possible without exposing yourself. That takes so much courage as the writer.

    • Victoria says:

      Thanks for sharing your stats, Shawn! That is really heartening to hear people responding so positively to your posts. I frequently see things turn ugly pretty quickly on more public sites. It’s nice to think about blogs with hope that they are more supportive environments. I also like your framing as it being a choice that’s worth it.

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