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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

We might think being vulnerable makes us weak, 

As a kid, I cried a lot. 

If I was sad or distressed, the tears fell from my eyes without caring too much. But my indifference to showing my feelings bothered those watching. 

“We don’t like playing with her,” my cousins said, “she cries every time.”

I realized at an early age that people felt uncomfortable around vulnerability, so I had to condition myself to retain the tears.

And with time, I got too accustomed. I began to feel uneasy with my vulnerability, too. 

Throughout our lives, we all have been guilty of this. 

We condition ourselves to create this image of a confident, strong person. So, we hide from emotions that could break the spell.

We want to have everything figured out, even when we don’t. 

Even as babies, people would tell us “please don’t cry” as someone immediately came to the rescue. 

We have to admit most of us are afraid to feel uneasy, so we don’t like being around unpleasant emotions, like sadness or angriness. In fact, we perceive those emotions as flaws.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word vulnerable means “open to attack or injury of a non-physical nature.”

In other words, you become an easy target open to getting hurt. 

Your feelings become your weak spot. 

And if life were one of those epic hero stories, being vulnerable would mean the end. Once again, a hero is betrayed by its own persona. 

Sounds tragic, right?

Though I cannot argue with an old dictionary, this perception still makes me wonder: is vulnerability a weakness?

Well, Merriam Webster says no. 

“Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded,” the website stated under the word vulnerable.

Being vulnerable is showing yourself in the raw, no masks. It is showing your true emotions and not being afraid of those unpleasant ones. 

“Being emotionally vulnerable involves the process of acknowledging your emotions, especially those that are uncomfortable or painful,” Arasteh Gatchpazian said in an article for The Berkeley about emotional vulnerability

But it’s not as easy as just saying it. We are used to being perceived as unbothered persons, so we can’t avoid masking those emotions. 

“When I first met you, you seemed like a pretty positive person,” my boyfriend said to me once, “but now that I know you, you can also be really negative.”

And he was right. I was the boiling tea kettle metaphor. 

“If you put a lid on a boiling pot, eventually the contents will rise to the top and spill over,” Lindsay Dodgson on an article about bottling up emotions for Insider said, “Human emotions are no different.”

I was retaining my emotions and avoiding talking about those things affecting or intoxicating me on the inside. And then, I would reach my boiling point and succumb to the pressure. 

My emotions would take the steering wheel, and it was game over for me.

I would start crying when I would get angry or sad. Tears would fall from my eyes even without calling them. 

And fighting against them was useless, so I became more disappointed and more frustrated. 

So, for once, I tried to understand what was happening to meand my feelings.  

Acknowledging what you feel takes time and energy, but it is the starting point. 

“Accepting emotions as they come helps you get more comfortable with them,” Crystal Raypole said in an article for Healthline about How to become the boss of your emotions, “Increasing your comfort around intense emotions allows you to fully feel them without reacting in extreme unhelpful ways.”

So, try to understand yourself and begin a conversation with yourself. 

And if you can’t do it alone or don’t know where to start, ask for help. Therapy can be a great resource to discuss things you didn’t know were bothering you.

Just start your retrospective journey.

It took me a while to redefine what vulnerability meant to me. I had always thought showing my vulnerable self was a risky business because I did not know how people were going to react. 

And I still think that often. I might be too used to masking my feelings. 

But once I understand the human aspect of those thoughts and emotions, I let myself go. I let myself feel.

I am still getting used to people seeing me cry or share my thoughts when facing problems.

Still, some might say I am not afraid to show my “weak spot” anymore. 

Mariana is a journalism student at the University of Florida. She's passionate about storytelling. In her free time, you can find her reading a book, working out or binge-watching Netflix.