One thing that has always amazed me about little kids is their honesty. They are a people not afraid to say it like it is! You promised someone earlier that day you would pick them up at the airport and are now trying to get out of it? They will call you on it faster than you can tell them to shut up. They have no qualms about telling you that shirt doesn’t look nice, you look older than you did yesterday, or on the flip side- how much they love you, what funny thing their friend did earlier… It doesn’t matter for kids. They just say what’s on their mind.
Being honest is not something I struggle with. Ask any of my friends- I don’t shy away from telling the truth (good or bad) even if it’s at the expense of someone’s feelings. I am so willing to tell the truth that I’ve had to learn to ask people if they’re telling me stuff to get my opinion or if they just want me to listen.
But in the spirit of honesty, here’s where I struggle: I have a tendency to use my honesty as a scape goat to being vulnerable. I think a lot of people wrongfully link the two, but they are actually very different. Honesty is defined as “truthfulness or frankness;” whereas vulnerability is “capable or susceptible to being wounded or hurt.”
I have zero problems being frank with someone, but opening myself up to them in a way that makes me susceptible to being hurt? NO. THANK. YOU.
As soon as the conversation shifts to me, I suddenly lose all capacities of the human language. Words become hard. Thoughts become muffled. I literally can’t even.
I can’t explain to you why this happens. I KNOW what being vulnerable does for a relationship. I’ve seen my friendships grow and strengthen because one or both of us has been willing to be vulnerable. Yet every time I get the opportunity to be vulnerable, all of these “what if’s” start popping up.
- I want to admit to someone that being away from my family is actually really hard, but what if they think that’s weird and don’t understand?
- I want to tell the guy I’m dating just how much I like him, but what if he doesn’t like me quite as much?
- I want to pick up the phone and call a friend after a bad day, but what if I don’t look like I have it all together?
Then it occurred to me: What if I am trying so hard to protect myself- my heart, my feelings, my fears- that I’m doing it at the expense of my relationships?
I think about how much fuller my relationships would be if I wasn’t just willing to be honest, but I was also willing to be vulnerable. I wouldn’t let the “what if’s” stop me anymore. Instead, I would push past them and focus on the greater side of it.
- What if I share this and we connect on a level we haven’t before?
- What if I say how much I’m scared of getting hurt, and it opens a door for them to do the same?
Yes, I struggle with being vulnerable. Finding the words to put together to express how I’m feeling is hard, and I don’t always want to do it. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the times I have done it, it’s always worth it.