Let’s dig into Lesson #8 from the list of 10 lessons I’ve learned so far in my 30s. Lessons 1 – 7 are linked below for you to read first. Tough lessons, but nonetheless, valuable beyond measure.
And now, Lesson #8: Learning it’s okay to be vulnerable with others.
This whole blog is a practice in being vulnerable with others, and it wasn’t easy at first – but, I decided to just be myself, share my journey, and let it be. I’ve written so much about being vulnerable, what it means to me, and how difficult it’s been for me throughout my life. I don’t know if there was something special about hitting 30 or what, but it seemed to be the magical time in which I dropped my guard and began learning that it’s okay to allow myself to be vulnerable.
I think that’s such a key word: ALLOW.
There is nothing that says I must spend my life all blocked off and guarded with a million locks around my heart and life. It’s absolutely a choice, so allowing really is the obstacle that needs to be overcome. Without allowing ourselves to do this or that, we keep ourselves stuck in place – not connecting, not growing, not sharing, and not allowing ourselves to love or be loved.
No doubt we’ve all been through some stuff that’s made us the way we are, but it doesn’t need to become an excuse for us to block out the world. Again, it’s a choice. Do you know how freeing it is to just allow yourself to be? To drop the guard and let a little light shine in? We don’t need to spend our lives in a dark place just because we’ve been hurt. Learn to rise above. Thing is, we’ve all been hurt, and chances are, we’ll be hurt again in some capacity. So instead of asking why me, focus on asking and seeking the answer for what am I to learn from this? The lesson is somewhere buried below all the hurt, I assure you.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Read that again. I came across this quote maybe a couple of years ago, and it’s been my go-to motto ever since. Not only is it powerful, it’s empowering. It reminds you that YOU can change how you look at things. Dig deeper than surface-level – get your hands dirty and dissect the things in life that are keeping you hurt and in your same patterns. You and ONLY you can change the way you look at things, and in doing so, you allow yourself so much relief and freedom.
I mentioned before that a game changer for me was hearing my therapist say that I get to choose who to be vulnerable with based on who I find WORTHY of my vulnerability. This was so eye-opening for me, and it helped me change the way I look at things. I realized that keeping everything bottled up inside wasn’t doing me any favors, and it wasn’t helping me grow.
Being closed off blocks our ability to give and receive love. Yes, we can do both things while in this guarded space, but certainly not to the best of our ability. I am an all-out, love deep, love hard kind of person. I give my all, always – to the best of my ability, in any given moment. BUT I’ve learned I can give even more by allowing myself to open up and be vulnerable. Scary as all get-out, but also very beautiful. When you can be yourself – raw, unguarded, emotional – and be loved and accepted because of this openness, it brings on what I’d consider a feeling of relief. Like okay, the mask can come off, and I can be loved more, not less.
I admit that being in this super vulnerable space with someone for the first time is immensely difficult, and yet, it’s the only way to grow into who you truly are. While my relationship didn’t end up working out – the one where I was open, vulnerable, scared, and more me than I’d ever been – I learned soooo many valuable lessons and SO MUCH about love. Coming out of a divorce and being in a supremely bad + dark place left me in a super fragile state. I felt so much dislike for myself, and because of that, I had no idea how to receive and accept love.
Together, because of the space we were in, we ruined something that could have continued being a beautiful love story. Or maybe not – who knows? What I do know is that everything comes to us at exactly the right time and that everything happens for a reason. I also know it’s how I learned who I am – it taught me how to love myself, respect myself, and know my worth.
ALL of this from allowing myself to be vulnerable. If that isn’t beautiful, I don’t know what is.
There are two books I’d recommend regarding vulnerability and love. The first is The Gift of Imperfections: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. This is a book I barely started reading years ago after my therapist recommended it to me. I just wasn’t in the right headspace to read it at the time, but I still intend to, as I know it’s something I am prepared to handle now. The second is The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. Everyone needs to read this book! It teaches you what your love language is, and it can help you understand your partner’s love language. So necessary when it comes to giving and receiving love.
Here’s the thing – in quote form…
The sad truth is so many people are in love and not together, and so many people are together and not in love.
Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most love is lost. –Khalil Gibran
Both quotes boil down to our unwillingness to be open and vulnerable. We are often so afraid of being ourselves and speaking our truth and our hearts that we deny ourselves so much love and the opportunity to be truly happy in life.
Give this post, these words some thought. And remember, there is beauty in being vulnerable. You have no idea what’s on the other side of your fears if you never allow yourself to face those fears head-on.
Be vulnerable and embrace all that is YOU.