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Vulnerability. That doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to most people. Oxford Languages defines it as, “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.” Makes it sound like celery — something to avoid.
I’m good at small talk; I would rather talk to friends one-on-one than in a group, because you get to know people better. Talking one-on-one makes it easier to hear their opinion, and I like hearing people’s opinions; I just tend to stray away from sharing my own.
Only for the big things. Somehow, in a way that I don’t really understand, I don’t struggle sharing little bits of myself with people — like they’re post-its, something to hand out and give away.
I guess my thinking is that those little bits aren’t something that can really hurt — they’re just something you can find on a flashcard.
She’s lactose intolerant, but tends to ignore that when there’s vanilla ice cream.
She loves the taste of coffee, but can’t handle the caffeine.
She likes to pretend she can throw a football well, but truthfully the spiral could be tighter.
They make good bullet points — like a mind map. But never a biography.
There’s not enough depth.
Sometimes I wonder why I can’t share the big things; or, really, why I won’t. Then, I remember that getting burned a couple times too many will do that to you. It’s not cynical, and it’s not emotionally stunted. It’s just self-protective.
Like a hermit crab when a boat sails over. He gets a little scared sometimes, so his neck retracts back into his shell. It’s safer.
To me, vulnerability is enabling yourself to get hurt. It’s almost like saying, “Hi! I’m here! Please, emotionally attack me. I have opened myself up to you, and that makes me a prime candidate for pain. Attack!”
Being safe is easier. But, being a teenager and being impulsive, recently, safety hasn’t been my thing. So, I opened myself up, again — and I got reminded of just how much bigger your world gets when you allow yourself to get to know someone else, when you allow yourself to care. And I also got reminded of what it’s like to crash and burn at the end.
Where the friendship didn’t work out, where it got too complicated and life got in the way. And that’s okay. That happens. People grow together, and then they grow apart, and sometimes they grow back together — and sometimes they don’t.
That happens. That’s fine. What isn’t fine, is how I was reminded of why being vulnerable is even a choice people make.
Or why I did it in the first place.
Getting to know someone new? Letting someone into your life and letting them offer you their worldview? It’s hard to find a metaphor for. But the closest thing I can think of is coming down from a headstand for the first time. Where the world is the same, and nothing’s changed, but you’ve changed. You feel different — you feel lighter.
That makes it sound like love. It’s not.
But in a way, I guess it’s kind of close.
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