Nostalgia

Remember Reminder #15: It’s Okay to Be Vulnerable

Remember Reminder: It's Okay to Be Vulnerable | The Nostalgia Diaries Blog

It’s late Sunday morning, and my daughter Zoey and I are dropping my father off at the airport. We have been lucky enough to enjoy two weekends with him this past month, so we feel downright spoiled, but our fun has come to and end: it’s finally time for him to head back home.

Zoey hops out of the car and steps into my dad’s arms. When he picks her up, Zoey’s arms and legs wrap around him so easily and so quickly, it’s almost as if this hug of hers is a muscle memory, the childhood equivalent of riding a bike or typing on a keyboard.

I stand next to the car watching Zoey, at her tiny head nestled gently against his shoulder. She looks at me, her face almost expressionless, and then she leans back and gives him a tiny kiss.  After they exchange I love you’s, he sets Zoey down and gives me a hug. We stand shoulder to shoulder, and as we watch Zoey climb back into the car, my dad puts his arm around me, gives me a little squeeze, and says, “You’re doing just fine.” The slight nod of my head agrees with him.

* * *

Minutes later, with our hands waving our final goodbyes, Zoey and I begin to drive away. I turn off the radio and start talking to her, asking her what she wants to do the rest of the day. But my question hangs suspended in the space between us: there is no answer from the backseat.

“Zoey?” I ask. I try to catch her eye in the rearview mirror, but I can’t see her. “What’s up? Is everything okay back there?”

Silence.

I make sure that there are no cars around me, and I quickly look back at Zoey. The brief snapshot I see of her takes my breath away: Her palm—pressed against the window; her fingers—splayed open wide; the sun—streaming in, revealing the tiny glint of a tear precariously perched in the corner of her sky-blue eye.

“Peanut…,” I whisper. I check the road before glancing back at her again. Zoey turns her head and when her gaze catches mine, her little body starts shaking and alligator tears quickly begin rolling down her sweet, sun-kissed cheeks.

“Oh, honey,” I breathe. My free hand reaches back, searching for hers, and when her little fingers find mine, she finally chokes out a few words:

“I’m so sad…”

* * *


“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
– Brené Brown


Over the past year, I’ve spent quite a bit of time hanging out with vulnerability, that sometimes scary, sneaky little state of being:
there have been times—just like Zoey—that I’ve been terribly sad. There have been times when I’ve felt like all my vulnerabilities have been laid out before me, my emotions not sure what to make of them. There have been times where I’ve been on my knees, with my hands pressed against my face, fumbling to catch my own adult-sized alligator tears.

But painful things are often disguised as learning opportunities, aren’t they? This year has given me the chance to let these feelings teach me something. I’ve learned it’s okay to feel angry or scared or hurt. I’ve learned it’s okay to feel sad or lonely or confused.

I’ve learned it’s okay to simply feel.

As children, we do this easily. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, let our tears fall freely, and openly share how we’re feeling about something. But oftentimes, somewhere along the way, we start bottling our emotions up, feeling bad about how we feel, and worrying that if we express those feelings—that if we speak up—-there may be repercussions—and that’s not okay. It’s crucial to remember that owning our vulnerabilities allows us to be ourselves.

It’s taken a while, but I’ve come to accept and acknowledge my own vulnerabilities, and I’ve also learned how important it is to let other people be vulnerable with me. Because how can I acknowledge the feelings of others if I’m not acknowledging my own?

* * *

“I’m so sad…”

Still holding her hand, I keep driving until I come upon the next exit. We end up in a sea of car rental places, and I turn into the first parking lot I see and into the first empty space I can find.

And then, all at once: I’m putting the car in park, and I’m hearing Zoey unclick her seatbelt; I’m turning around and holding out my hands, and she’s climbing over the console and into my lap; I’m folding my arms around her, and I’m feeling the wetness of Zoey’s face against my chest as she sobs into my shirt.

If I want to teach Zoey that it’s okay to be vulnerable—something she already knows how to do pretty well and something I never want her to forget—I need to keep showing her that I also know how to acknowledge and understand my insecurities and feelings, no matter how scary they may be. Because, as Brené so eloquently states, being brave with our feelings puts us on the path toward discovering the infinite power of our own light.

So as the outside world comes and goes around us, as we sit, wrapped up in one another, as I gently rock her to a steady song of the whispered words I keep trying to fit into the quiet gaps of her tears: I know, It’s okay, I’m here—I, too, begin to cry, finally letting my own truth be known:

“I’m sad, too.”

And then, slowly but surely, as warmth and light begins to emanate from the shining brightness we’ve created in this shared, small space, our tears begin to dry. We know we will be okay, because we will remember: We are brave. We are powerful. We are infinite. We are us.

So today, remember: It’s okay to be vulnerable.

Let Us Know: What makes you feel vulnerable? Do you have a hard time acknowledging your insecurities? Do you have a hard time sharing your feelings? How to you turn a vulnerability into something positive?

We post our Remember Reminder series on the blog here every Friday morning, as well as on our Instagram and Facebook accounts. Just search the hashtag #rememberreminder to find us! And if you have any of your own post-it note Remember Reminders that we should know about, make your own and use the hashtag so we can share the love!

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28 thoughts on “Remember Reminder #15: It’s Okay to Be Vulnerable

  1. This is beautiful. I especially try to teach my son it’s ok to be vulnerable. I don’t want him to think that because he’s a boy he can’t be. I let him see me cry and I let him cry when he needs to. I’m glad you share that with your daughter as well. It’s important to be open.

  2. Such a beautiful post. Being vulnerable is hard. I’ve recently started a post about loneliness, which is my vulnerability. I have mixed feelings about sharing it, but I hope that I can be brave and look at it as letting in the light when it is ready.

  3. Oh, my goodness… this is such a beautiful post.

    I wonder when (and why?) that happens to us as we get older. That we stop feeling and start bottling those emotions, but I’m so glad you are teaching your daughter with actions that it’s okay to feel vulnerable and to cry and be upset and sad. You shared such a lovely moment there in that car, and I loved reading this <3 I'm sending so much love to you both.

    XOXO

  4. I’m sure it’s a whole different ball game when it’s your own kiddo, but I actually broke down and started crying in front of one of my students (who I had had for three years in a row). I think it was in that moment where he was like, “Whoa. She’s not just my teacher. She’s a human being with feelings.” Needless to say, our relationship was so much stronger after that.

  5. Goosebumps! Beautifully written and, for me, perfectly timed — I just re-watched Brene’s TED talk (and we’ve also been having lots of grandparent visits over the summer!). Always great to have a reminder. 🙂

  6. Your writing is so eloquent – the bond you share between your daughter reminds me so much of the one I share with my son. We must always keep the lines of communication open. Remind them that it’s ok to not be ok. That negative feelings are going to happen and it’s a part of life…and that they will pass…and that there are always people there to help them through it…always.

  7. Your writing always astounds me. Because just when I think you’ve written your very best post yet, I read the next post and it’s even better. Yes, we tend to “lose” vulnerability as we become adults. It is risky. But we also know that unless we take risks, we don’t know what we can accomplish, etc. Crying is good. It cleanses the soul.
    Brenda

  8. Displaying vulnerability is one of the hardest things for me. I feel as if I have to be strong for others all the time, and that doesn’t give me time to process my emotions. I also feel very uncomfortable when I do try to work through my emotions, so I kind of just push it aside. I know I definitely need to work on that more!

  9. Such a lovely post! I love your reminder about how kids truly do wear their hearts on their sleeves, and there’s something we can learn from that.

  10. There is such strength in being vulnerable. I know that many are not comfortable when we are vulnerable but I believe the more that we are , the better we are all.

  11. We can learn so much from children – they are never afraid to share their feelings.
    I love Brene Brown, she has such wonderful perspectives on vulnerability and shame – you picked a great quote.

  12. Corey, this is so beautiful! I am not very good at being vulnerable. This is an excellent lesson for me too.

  13. “Don’t cry dad,” Camdyn said to me tonight as we watched Rogue One, not for the first time. She knows there are scenes that get to me. Like in the Spiderman movie, when Gwen Stacy dies. It always hits me hard.

    I’m glad my girls have seen me cry. That they know i’m strong, but also have seen me hurt. How brave of Zoey to try and hold back tears, because that’s the reaction we have, right? To be strong.

    And sometimes we realize showing a vulnerability, and embracing it, is the strongest move of all.

  14. I teared up reading this, being vulnerable can be oh so scary, yet also fulfilling! And it’s so nice to hear your daughter has such a great relationship with her grandfather. She will cherish that forever. 💜

  15. This was so touching- beautiful storytelling skills, it gave me chills. Such an important message ❤️

  16. I agree. We often shelter ourselves from feeling, especially as adults, by moving from one task/subject to the next. It’s kinda almost like a coping mechanism.

  17. Aw, poor Zoey. I do think adults have a hard time being as vulnerable as kids, though I suppose even some kids never really get that chance either. I feel like I’ve always been a bit of an emotional person but it’s healthy to let it out sometimes.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

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