What is vulnerability to you?

I shared a survey with my friends recently, asking:

  • For me, vulnerability is…
  • Vulnerability feels like…
  • I feel vulnerable when…

I got 13 responses, primarily female, ages 24-65. A small pool, and not at all representative of a larger population, except perhaps the one I surround myself with.

“For me, vulnerability is…”

  • Loss of control of my feelings
  • Exposure
  • Sharing personal details, making stronger bonds
  • Putting yourself out there without knowing how they’ll react to it
  • Brutal honesty
  • Scary
  • Being open with people. I’m usually closed off and reserved unless I really know someone.
  • Being open to the chance of being hurt
  • A sense of feeling hopeless (when the ego takes over)
  • a state of mind in which you feel exposed
  • being subject to outside influences and opinions, negative or positive

“Vulnerability feels like…”

  • I’m crazy
  • Loss of control. Drowning well no one help.
  • Connecting with someone deeply
  • Bravery
  • Open to judgement
  • Depending on the situation like you are helpless and it is scary.
  • Uncertainty
  • No control
  • Scary. Makes me anxious.
  • Being exposed
  • Insecure, hopeless
  • Scary yet somehow liberating, knowing that everything is “out.”
  • Being uncomfortable in your own skin. Like who you are might not be good enough. A call to change. Change is usually uncomfortable whether good or bad.

“I feel vulnerable when…”

  • I’m not in control
  • I hurt.
  • Tell them things about myself I typically don’t share with just anyone
  • I let people look or listen to stuff I have created.
  • I am truly honest with how I feel
  • My health was bad and I had to rely on other people for things I normally did. Also, when I meet new people or I am in a situation I haven’t experienced before.
  • Sharing personal aspirations and failures/losses
  • I’m around people I don’t know
  • In crowded places. With a lot of people around. Any public speaking. Expressing my feelings/needs/wants, even with those I’m closest too, including my husband and family members.
  • I’m honest about uncomfortable feelings
  • I’m uncomfortable with myself or when i put myself out there and get rejected. When my feelings get hurt.
  • I make mistakes or face criticism.
  • I am in situations where I feel everyone around me knows more than me whether work or social. When the way I look or think doesn’t match other people’s appearance or opinions. When I am asked to change.

You can see the common threads throughout the responses. I would summarize it as:

  • For me, vulnerability is the scary feeling of being open, letting go of control, and being truly seen. 
  • Vulnerability feels like an uncomfortable, uncertain place where I am open to connection or rejection. 
  • I feel vulnerable when I am out of my comfort zone or when I share an important part of myself.

I’ll leave you with this (from Brené Brown of course!):

Vulnerability Quote_Brene Brown