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Mental Health

The Struggle of Vulnerability

If you are anything like me, you know that you have a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings to those closest to you. You know that no one will judge you, but whenever a moment comes where you want to show any sort of vulnerability, you want to hide yourself away.

When it comes to others around me being upset about something, I always feel a great deal of compassion. Having a bad day? I will bring you a coffee or suggest we go out and do something fun. Need help with understanding a course concept and we happen to be in the same class? I will do what I can to help. However, something that I have been contending with is learning how to help someone when they cry. It’s not that I don’t feel bad for them, or want to help, it is just that I don’t usually show that kind of emotion openly myself.

Immediately, a host of thoughts run through my head. Should I…hug them? Pat them on the back? What is an appropriate amount of time to wait before asking what’s made them upset? Should I even ask if they do not seem open to it?

In a world where we are more conscious of boundaries than we have ever been, being vulnerable with others, as well as learning how to respond to vulnerability, can be difficult. Not everyone wants to be hugged when they are upset or even in a normal scenario.

I admit, I am not a huge fan of hugs. This has been met with shock from many and cautious indifference from others. The many ‘love languages’ are still lost on a large part of the population and it’s important to realize that many don’t give and receive love in the same way we do.

Loving is vulnerable. I have always been jealous at how easily it comes to others and how quick to trust people can be. While I have the best intentions, even to those I am not close to or who have hurt me in the past, I still find that I close myself off.

If you struggle with these same emotions and feelings, you will have probably been told at some point in your life that you are ‘hard to read’ or ‘intimidating’. Furthermore, if you are even more like me, you’ll know that you don’t intend to be this way and it just takes longer for you to be open to others with your own vulnerabilities. While it is easy for you to relate to others and help them contend with their struggles by offering a helping hand, you are just not good with raw and open emotion.

If you feel this way, you are not alone. We all have love to give and we all have vulnerabilities we’d like to be open about. Be kind to yourself and remember that we are constantly developing and changing. With time, we’ll find a way to be more open.

Bronte Behling

Wilfrid Laurier '23

A second year Cultural Studies and Film Studies double major student at Wilfrid Laurier University, Bronte has had a passion for creative writing since middle school where she took an online summer course about J.R.R Tolkien's the Silmarillion. A cat lover, Star Wars fan and podcast enthusiast she aims to gain more writing experience through this publication in order to pursue her post-degree goal of becoming a journalist.
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