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It’s okay to be vulnerable

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

These types of conversations clearly depict the desire to remain closed and guarded instead of sharing true feelings. While the word “vulnerability”  typically portrays the image of weakness and fragility, it is important to know that being open to sharing emotions has more benefits than withholding them.

Through social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, people have started to become more open about themselves by posting about personal experiences. Talking about their day or venting to friends through these platforms promotes a community where people aren’t afraid to open up and create connections with others who are facing similar problems. Because it takes place through an app, people are more willing to share because it isn’t as difficult as telling someone in person. Despite this, many people are still reluctant to be vulnerable because of society’s pressure to appear strong.

For example, “Good Will Hunting” is a film that displays how vulnerability is essential and significant in order to have personal growth. The main character, Will Hunting, becomes traumatized from abusive encounters and is forced to see a therapist for help. However, he uses defense mechanisms to avoid being honest about his feelings and denies the fact that he needs to improve his mental health. Although his defense mechanisms are used to protect him from being hurt again, he ultimately realizes that being emotionally accessible is beneficial for his health and mental stability.

As shown in “Good Will Hunting,” people can be influenced by personal experiences to act a certain way, becoming someone who hides their emotions in order to have stability. This causes them to build up emotional barriers in order to prevent themselves from facing rejection, criticism or judgment. As a result, people often feel as if they are losing a sense of themselves by opening up because it reveals more personal aspects. They fear that others will change their previously positive impressions of them upon learning about their issues.

These barriers are also created because sharing can appear to be a burden or bothersome for others. Many people don’t want to weigh others down because they believe it will worry them and that their problem is insignificant compared to other issues in the world. Through this type of thinking, they further repress their feelings and continue to be hesitant about opening up.

However, holding in these feelings makes it harder to see how sensitivity is not weak because people will view it as a typical part of life. While it is simple to hide emotions from people, it is challenging to find the will to admit the truth behind the words “I’m fine,” since it can be taken as an indication of susceptibility. Although it may be hard to appear vulnerable to others, being open does not necessarily mean allowing yourself to be hurt emotionally.

Confiding in others not only breaks the barrier that is built with suppressed feelings, but also establishes an internal and external understanding of identity. Self-strength is established because the expression of vulnerability requires an amount of bravery and courage. It brings an opportunity to be honest with yourself and others.

Allowing yourself to be completely truthful with admitting the feelings and emotion behind a facade only shows that you’re human. It’s not just okay to be vulnerable –it’s important.

By Sarah Lew, Opinion editor
Photo by Erin Tan