I am a vulnerable person. I crave depths. Empty smiles and cliche platitudes make me cringe, even as I'm saying them, as we all sometimes have to. I'm not sure if it's my cyclothymia (us mood cyclers are pretty good at extreme emotions) or just my general personality that makes me this way, but it's me nonetheless. Sure, I get to know someone by sharing a cup of coffee or a drink and a laugh, having high level conversations about interests and hobbies and jobs. But if that's where it stops, it'll quickly fade for me. Those are items that people put on a resume or a social media profile. I need substance. And to me, substance means that I, and the people in my life, need to be open with, and vulnerable to, one another.
What makes someone vulnerable? For one, not being perfect. Because nobody is. Nobody. When I ask an open, vulnerable person, "how are you?", they don't smile and say fine when they're feeling awful inside because the love of their life just left them or their closest relative is gravely ill, or they're so stressed about a deadline that they can barely see straight. They say something like "honestly, not so great" or "eh, I've been better." And if we are anywhere near close, they actually tell me some of what's going on, when they're feeling up to talking about it. Life is not full of only great moments and good news. If that's all I know about you, or you know about me (unlikely, I'm a pretty open book with little filter), we have a superficial relationship.
There are a time and place for superficial relationships. It's likely, for instance, that you won't know all of the deep, dark secrets of every one (or any) of your coworkers or clients or the UPS delivery person. So I want to be clear that in this case, I don't mean superficial as a negative. I mean it as "not so deep". In the instances above, that type of interaction is totally appropriate. But for those that I have an interpersonal relationship with - close family, friends, significant others - vulnerability is a must. Think if all you knew of your best friends or significant other was what they put on their Facebook page. Would you really feel like you knew them? Or would you feel like all you knew was the face they wanted to put out to the world, the person they wanted to be? What's more, don't you want to know more about your best friend or mate than that person they barely remember from middle school but connected with anyways? Without vulnerability, this is exactly what our relationships are like.
So if you want me to know you, and you want to get to know me, tell me something that's making you sad, or frustrated, or hurt, or angry (hopefully not at me). Give me an emotion that you are afraid to give others but trust me with. Open up to me, and let me see the real you, even if it's just glimpses at first, a few moments here are there. Let the facade crumble, just for a little while. Because if we "put on a happy face", only tell each other the highlights, then how can we possibly be close? We ALL have faults, and weaknesses, and sad stories, and without them, we aren't a complete person. We are plastic, one dimensional. And when it comes to people I chose to be close to, I don't have plastic, one dimensional relationships.