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How To Find The Courage To Be Vulnerable (Plus A Semi-Sorta Love Letter)

I wanted to write a post about vulnerability today. It’s inspired by this great book that I just read called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.

I first heard of Brene when I was perusing the TED site one day. Next she popped up on Oprah, still chatting about this vulnerability thing. I found out about her books and I put a hold on a copy of Daring Greatly  with my library.

I’m the 40th person to put in a request on one copy of the book.  Obviously I’m not the only person who’s ready to dare greatly by learning how I can be more vulnerable.

So, how can you be more vulnerable? The short answer is digging up the courage to do so.

That you have to figure out how to ignore the critics, become resilient , and get out there and fight your heart out.  The long, more complicated answer is that yes, courage is key, but you might have to wade through a bunch of your nasty life shit before you get there.

My next thought was how can I talk to you all about vulnerability without putting myself in a vulnerable position?  I attempted to write this post from a non-personal stance, but clearly that doesn’t work.  I’m going to dare greatly today. Hang with me.



So, here’s what I’m feeling vulnerable about today:  I’ve been caught up on the same guy for quite some time.  A long ass time, actually. 

Here’s more:

It was a relationship I was in to win, and one that I still can’t quite give up on. That’s me being vulnerable. In my head I picture all of my friends shaking their heads. Yes, it’s one of those situations. The kind that everyone says to walk away from.

Everyone except you, that is.

We have all of these sayings about there being plenty of fish in the sea, but there is no other fish like him. There is no other fish like anyone in our lives. Yes, we might be replaceable in the job arena, but there are some people that you meet who are just truly, truly one-of-a-kind, and that’s just it.

So, there is something in me that makes me want to fight for this. It’s not even that feeling that women tend to get (guys let me know if you have this too) where you think about all of the time you’ve invested in the relationship, and you decide to put in more to “make it work”

Does “making it work” even exist? 

Anywho, in the moments when vulnerability seems impossible, I just want to walk away. I want to turn my back on everything that has hurt me (including my own behavior) and pretend that this never happened. That I didn’t meet this guy. That he hadn’t stolen my heart, and that I never once had to contend very publicly with the knowledge that he just might leave me after all.

I’m a fighter. Even when my feelings are hurt, or when I’m totally down and out, it’s my anti-vulnerability style, or the effects of my feelings of shame that bring me out, full force, swinging. I’m literally fighting for my life in those moments.

He ducks. He guards. He rarely swings. He was already behind a wall when I met him, and the bricks have gotten higher.

I’m not sure there is space for me anymore. I’m not sure if he wants there to be space for me. I’m not sure I should fight for that space.  I saw this on Thought Catalog:

“There’s no sense in being with someone whom you can’t picture yourself happily with in the foreseeable future. Don’t get me wrong, fixing damaged relationships is great; but trying to glue back a thousand broken pieces while getting cut in the process is unhealthy.”

But then there was also this:

“Making yourself difficult to love. By being shut down and over-complicated, you create a seemingly impenetrable shirt, doused in cupid repellant. We all struggle in our own unique, disastrous ways — the key is to fix them. Making yourself available, approachable and open/honest will work wonders for your love life.”

And I read this quote the other day: “An optimist sees the opportunity in the danger. A pessimist sees the danger in the opportunity.”

I think he reads my blog from time-to-time. Usually when I send him here.

On the off chance that he might be reading today…well, I just want you to know that I love you.

I’ll end this journey inside my head by saying you all should read this book. Seriously.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

I hope you have the courage to do something that takes a bit of vulnerability today. And of course let me know what’s on your mind in the comments.


Amber J.

A thirty-something N.Y.C. transplant, Amber J. is a Southern Belle living in an urban space. She developed The Fab Life Project to create a space online where millennials can celebrate the every day adventures while striving to create a life they love.

  • ibyl

    Wow vulnerability is a tough one. I actually heard about this book while watching Oprah’s show. Unfortunately I forgot about before writing it down in my list of books to read list. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention.

    The courage it takes to stay in a situation or relationship that you’re the only one rooting for is difficult. I have experienced a similar battle in a previous relationship except the guy was actually saying over and over he wanted to be with me but his actions didn’t line up. That’s it in short. Just remember the guy goes after the woman he wants. Guys love the hunt and the chase. If you’re not being chased by him then be vulnerable enough to move on. I think it takes vulnerability to move on too. It’s admitting that time was spent and possibly wasted on a relationship that is not for the long haul. You don’t want someone who doesn’t treasure you because you will be fighting that battle the entire relationship. Very good post… It’s always ways the real and genuine feelings that make for the best dialogue.

    March 9, 2014 at 10:09 am
  • Greg

    How dare him treat you like this! Does he get off on this?! I’ll bet he does, enjoys the power he has over you. He is sadist and doesn’t care about you, else HE would have ended the relationship.

    September 19, 2013 at 10:19 am
  • Trent W. Nelson

    On courage:

    I think courage is overrated; mainly because it does nothing to protect you from shame. You can be a courageously strong person and still feel like shit at the end of the day.

    Shameless is what I aim for; when I broke up with my (Current) ex I had similar thoughts as you do now; I loved him, and he was so similar to me that it made it disturbing to think of how long it would take to find another male that “got” me.

    I was that person that refused to give up hope; I refused to exit the sinking ship, and it almost cost me my livelihood. My mental stability.

    Then, I became shameless. Really.

    I stopped worrying about the voyage ahead, and focused on taking care of my body and mind today. When I was with this specific ex I was injured, and I had no other choice but to focus on my health and forget about him. The months that followed that decision to take care of myself were filled with joy, pain, self-reflection, and more importantly, pride.

    I think you just need to find something else to be stubborn about; that’s what I did. I was too busy trying to walk straight to worry about an old (Literally, he was old as fuck and I loved it. Dont judge me. heh.) ex.

    On vulnerability:

    I often tell the people I work with to use vulnerability as a tool to measure doubt, worry, and anger.

    If talking about your relationship makes you vulnerable it means this union is off. Something in the water ain’t right, and I think you know exactly what it is.

    Sometimes when we say “I don’t know” or “I can’t move” we are really just looking for a much greater reason to create movement; we sometimes feel as if happiness, or even the desire for happiness, isn’t worth it.

    Pull from something meaningful in order to make this decision.

    When I was on the fence about breaking up with my very first boyfriend I used my [Deceased, and loved] father to produce movement; I thought ‘What would he want for me? What kind of life would he want for me? Is this it?”

    That line of questioning brought me to tears, and the next day I broke it off.

    You’ve got to find a more meaningful reason to leave this relationship.

    Or, you have to find a way to change how you view happiness and misery; going from “I won’t find another guy like him” to “By staying with him IM missing out on so many amazing men!”

    Speaking of vulnerability, is it necessary at this time? Right now?

    I mean, you haven’t even moved on; you’ve not even started the healing process. Right now you need to be hard. Tough.

    Your mentality needs to be untouchable.

    It needs to be rough-and-tough because you have a long walk ahead of you; while you’re replacing your bad habits (or ex’s) you need to make sure you are making a smooth transition into a more blissful place.

    You need to be serious. You need to be rock-hard until you have the strength to be shameless.

    You need to be silent until you have the nerve to dream without the need to be an optimist.

    Optimism sucks, man!. I say this because, well, you shouldn’t have to try or struggle to be a positive thinker; if you do it likely means that you have trained yourself to be negative; as if you personally invite worrisome thoughts into your space. If you are too negative, that is a problem that needs to be fixed; and using optimism as if it were super-glue will only work for so long.

    If you look closely enough, you’ll find that confident people aren’t unnecessarily optimistic; they are preoccupied with how good their current circumstances are, and don’t have the time or brain-power to always think about how great the future is. (But when they do, they go all out)

    All of the good vibes they produce daily are carried over to the future; so they end up manifesting an amazing life without having to drown themselves in “optimism”.

    The last quote is nice, but is honestly irrelevant to anyone that wants to live on their own terms. People that are in control of their existence see danger, and patiently walk the other way; we do it because, well, we don’t have time to spare on something as petty as a dangerous situation.

    You have to own your life. And understand that “owning” something means you have all the power; the object, whether it be a relationship, job, money, or a house, has no say. It is helpless. It is not a conscious being.

    It has no mind.

    You have the mind.

    This is why I haven’t commented more on your posts; because when I do I get the urge to write a goddanm book! ^_^

    May 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm
  • Bethy Pierre

    Kudos to you, hun! There’s so much power in vulnerability. Still working on that myself. And I hope everything works out between you and your love. 🙂

    May 17, 2013 at 10:27 am
    • Amber J. Adams

      Thank you:) Vulnerability is such a beast. I was scared to publish this one, but I said eh, dare greatly, Amber….dare greatly!

      May 19, 2013 at 9:11 am