Vulnerability is an action that is easier talked about than done. We all hear about the importance of vulnerability, being open with ourselves and those whom are close to us, and embracing the unknown while eliminating fear. Yet, what exactly do we picture at the mention of being vulnerable? How are we expected to let go of all apprehension associated with admitting our insecurities, feelings, or anxieties to the point that we feel comfortable with baring our skin? How and when are we expected to do this with our loved ones? How and when are we expected to do this with people we don't even know? What if, after being open and finally making the decision to stand in total susceptibility, we aren't accepted?
Yet, without these leaps of faith and stepping outside of our comfort zones, there is literally no self-growth. Being vulnerable can be scary, especially if we are not used to exposing ourselves. Maybe, as younger kids (because I'm pretty young still) or throughout our childhoods, we didn't encounter or see a lot of vulnerable and sensitive moments regularly. That doesn't mean we have to allow that kind of environment to hinder our ability to stand in "moments of weakness," because the times where we are most prone to getting hurt are the moments where you're actually being strong. Just think about it: if it were that easy to simply bare our skin and allow everyone to see us for who we are, then everyone would do it.
Standing in those moments of weakness takes strength, and allows us to grow a thicker skin. There are far and few people that have the capability of ignoring everyone's comments, opinions, and whispers of our true selves. How else would they have obtained this kind of thick skin without being completely honest with themselves, their loved ones, and other people they barely know?
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Being unaware of the future and the outcomes of certain situations or opportunities can be eerie. Whether we're not used to placing ourselves in circumstances that seem foreign or are not the most outgoing by nature, it can be a good idea to participate in activities that make us self-conscious. The scenarios that caused me to grow up the most were those that made me feel extremely nervous and uncomfortable. I'm only 19, my life experience is limited, but judging from the ways that I did or did not surprise myself in those situations… I can honestly say that if you do succeed, it only serves as a self-esteem boost. If you do not, then those vulnerable moments will have you learn something new about yourself.
Vulnerability starts in doses, not all at once
Baby steps, you don't need to bare your skin completely and in one situation. Becoming comfortable with yourself takes time. If your anxiety levels are increasing from bearable to mentally impacting, then stop. There isn't a need to continue opening yourself up to others if it is giving you an unprecedented amount of headaches.
I learned that becoming more open is actually a process in which you eventually develop… well, I nicknamed it a "no fucks" mentality. (Unless you're able to just wake up one morning and literally not give any more fucks about what anyone else has to say about you or your sensitivities. Kudos to you, too.) Maybe there are a few things you'd like to work on before deciding to go emotionally streaking throughout the world. Are you timid or outspoken about everything that you feel? Are you able to admit all of your flaws to yourself and others? Are you able to own each and every single one of your mistakes before someone else has something to say about them?
Baby steps, like I mentioned before. Personally, one thing I've understood is that working on each of these little inabilities helps to build that foundation for standing emotionally or mentally transparent.
In my mom's words: Put your big girl pants on. Grow a thicker skin and toughen up, because life isn't easy but it can be made easier if you aren't that readily affected by every mishappening. We will always hear that it's required to be strong, but if we are always unconsciously susceptible to every little thing that another person says about us, then we'll always be stuck in the same place mentally. Taking everything as an attack and/or too seriously are all defense mechanisms that we employ when we aren't comfortable with ourselves.
What I do understand is that through self-acceptance along with moments of social exposure can help with developing a thicker skin. If we are vulnerable and shown love, then our anxiety subsides and we can realize that many of our inhibitions were fictional. Or, if we are met with a lot of rejection or disagreement, then a bunch of negative emotions can occur. Respond to it and move on without just allowing yourself to be attacked either because people's words can only dig so deep if you allow it. Being vulnerable should not make you weaker, after all. Only stronger.
Embracing yourself means that others will embrace you, too
The more you love yourself, the more others will love you. The more you embrace your inhibitions, feelings, and "real self" (whoever that is) other people will start to embrace that person, as well. If you are always afraid of being authentic and honest, then you will never discover the people that will genuinely relate to and vibe with you. There isn't a reason to hide. Own who you are and other people will either fall in love with you, or just have some respect for you. Learn to call the people who don't like you irrelevant, because anyone who aims to make you feel like less for being who you are should not be your problem.
At 19, I'm still discovering my own definition of vulnerability, and understanding the value of when someone either welcomes (or rejects) my authenticity. From starting college and moving out of my mom's house into my off-campus house, I started to discover a bunch of different ways that not being vulnerable can hurt me in the end, and a bunch of ways that being vulnerable at the wrong moments can hurt me, too.
I have realized that I can surprise myself in some very big ways and that when I disappoint myself being self-deprecating will not help. I have realized that I can be super mature for only 19, and act my age, too. I have realized that vulnerability for me is finally becoming easier, and it's a process that I've been enjoying.