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The Struggle Is Real: Wanting To Be Vulnerable But Not Wanting To Get Hurt

Growing up and becoming my own person has put me on a pursuit of strengthening my own ideas and views.

So, as I continue my journey, I like to see what conclusions others are coming to about life.

Whether it’s through articles or talks, I love venturing into other people's perspectives and seeing where they’re coming from and how they’ve adapted their individual approaches.

After becoming entirely enamored with Brené Brown and her TEDtalk on the power of vulnerability (and everything else she has said since), I immediately wanted to implement vulnerability in my life.

I think vulnerability is an incredible thing, albeit uncomfortable and scary. For me, vulnerability is being exposed and out of your comfort zone.

Vulnerability is saying, "I love you" first, asking for help or acknowledging out loud that you’re afraid. It’s sharing and creating and connecting in a raw and honest way.

I recently wrote an article on going places alone, and without my newfound vulnerability, that article wouldn’t exist.

Being vulnerable is putting things out there that may or may not be well received, but doing it anyway because it’s what you believe in.

All of that sounds great, but to have this as something I value, I had to put it into practice.

I’m a passionate person, so when I adapt ideas, I’m pretty serious about them. I want to be living those values -- walking the walk, talking the talk -- to ensure I’m not avoiding them in my actions. This is where, initially, fear kicked in and kicked my ass a little bit.

The possibility of being hurt, embarrassed or judged created a barrier for me to embracing vulnerability.

I realized I was afraid to allow myself get excited because I might get disappointed. I didn’t want to try new things because I might not be good at them. I was afraid to put my ideas out there in case people disagreed or thought I was an idiot.

In life and in love, we can put up barriers to allowing vulnerability. One of the biggest ones I think of in love, is being afraid to get heartbroken. It’s natural to want to protect ourselves, so we armor up with ambiguity and play it cool.

If we don’t let ourselves get too involved, it’ll be easier to cope if it doesn’t work out, right? We can find ourselves playing games to not look "too interested," to not have to be the first one to text and to not say the things we’re dying to say.

If I put myself out there and allow myself to be vulnerable, I might get rejected, fall "in too deep" or get my heart broken, but if I want to value vulnerability, I’m going to have to embrace that risk.

Where I see barriers, I like to look for benefits. So, here is what I’ve learned that makes embracing vulnerability more beneficial than bewildering:

It helps you to gain clarity.

When nobody is putting themselves out there, it can be hard to gauge how anyone is feeling.

Taking the step to tell the truth about how you feel could be scary, but so worth it. If you don’t know where you stand with someone, how long are you going to wait to find out?

Asking those hard to ask questions is nerve wracking, but if no one does it, no one gets any answers. Indulging in the uncomfortable can help you to find out whether you’ll be standing alone or side by side with the one you want.

Either way, at least you’ll know.

It allows you to be real.

Suiting up in our protective shell, whether it’s trying to impress or be someone we’re not, disengages us from who we are, so how is anyone else supposed to get a clue of who we are?

Of course, when you want to be accepted and loved, it can be hard to not think, "What if I’m not enough?"

With the goal of being liked, it could be instinct to put on a mask you hope will be appealing. And, maybe if others don’t like that mask, it’s okay because it wasn’t who you are, anyway.

Being you, being unapologetically true to who you are, is a beautiful side of vulnerability; it's the emotional space where people fall for the real you.

It provides an emotional experience.

Emotions are not to be feared, people! Like Brené says, we "cannot selectively numb."

So, if we’re trying to turn off the uncomfortable emotions, we don’t get to experience the fantastic ones. In any relationship, emotions can run high, both good and bad; so, when we embrace them, we get a full experience.

In the same way we could get hurt or disappointed, we could also find true joy, connection and belonging.

We can allow ourselves to shrug off the tough skin, get invested and feel all the lovely, unpredictable, exciting joys of love, but those butterflies and shivers can’t be felt under all that armor.

It’s interesting to look into vulnerability and realize how much it awakens other values in life, like connection, creativity, authenticity and clarity. All of these things can come into fruition when I allow myself be vulnerable.

I can and have put up walls, pushed people away and kept myself small to ensure I don’t have to feel too much or look "weak," but I know it didn’t get me anywhere. It kept me from putting my whole heart into love and life and everything I want to achieve.

Vulnerability has so much to offer, and while it can leave us open to pain and fear, I’d rather have that than feel nothing and not know where I stand.