Vulnerability inspires intimacy


Most of us employ the use of classic surface level lunchroom conversation to extinguish the incessant sound of our own chewing. We find ourselves engaging in a variety of topics, whether we’re arguing over the answers to an AP test or delighting in the tittle-tattle of last Saturday night.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to throw raisins at the person sitting across from you than to invite your table mates, who you may or may not actually be friends with, into a deep conversation, and I get that. I totally understand.

The only problem lies in the tragic possibility that we might allow ourselves to spend 180 days sitting next to people we never take the opportunity to genuinely know.

The word is vulnerability. It’s that strange corner of your soul, somewhere between tears and apathy: vague, I know. But actually, that’s the point. Everyone has a varying amount of “vulnerability endurance,” but unfortunately, high school culture tells us it’s not glamorous to have any at all.

Obviously every human, at some time or another, has felt the weight of deeply rooted emotions, ranging from immeasurable elation to indescribable sadness. The amount of life spent experiencing these emotions, however, is completely up to the individual.

Sometimes it’s automatic to disregard feelings that are difficult to address, but unfortunately we cannot selectively desensitize emotion. This means when we numb our to ability express those emotions dubbed inglorious by our culture, we simultaneously lose our potential to fully experience happiness, appreciation, joy and forgiveness. Vulnerability not only encourages reflection over the feelings that can sometimes be hard to address, but also inspires a life full of honesty, growth and legitimate sense of self.

Likewise, living within the margins of our culture-obedient surface level relationships may stifle opportunity to experience the beauty of authentic connection. Although whole-hearted conversation can be intimidating, only vulnerable intimacy can lay the groundwork for enduring and valuable relationships. Vulnerability is merely the door allowing intimacy to walk in the room. True closeness arrives when we are able to lose our fear of intimacy, and in turn vulnerability.

Unfortunately, no matter how strong our desires may be to live in intimacy with others, the ability to be vulnerable means nothing without courage. We must possess the courage to be vulnerable, in the hopes that others will respond similarly.

Consider it a comfort zone challenge. If you’re feeling courageous, lift your eyes from page four of the newspaper and tell the person next to you something about yourself. Maybe ask her/him a question or two that digs a little deeper than the conversation you had yesterday.

I doubt you’ll regret it.