The nature of vulnerability: 5 ways to step out of your comfort zone

An illustration of a person sheltered in a box with a bag on their head
Olivia Staser/Staff

What is vulnerability? Is it asking the cute drummer at Thorsen band night on a coffee date via Instagram? Sending your new favorite song to a friend? Leaving a poem on the front doorstep of your crush’s house? As a society, we pursue things and sentiments that make us feel safe. We surround ourselves with people who look like us, talk like us and think like us. Very rarely do we branch out and intentionally place ourselves into the unknown. Vulnerability means the possibility of rejection. Let go of the social norms that discourage you from putting yourself in a place where someone can say no — you will blossom into the most authentic version of yourself! The beauty of allowing yourself to be vulnerable is that, at some point, the rewards will outweigh rejection. Here at the Clog, we encourage you to do one thing that makes you feel vulnerable every day. Here are some suggestions!

Write a letter to a friend, lover or stranger

Letters can be platonic or romantic, compassionate or lighthearted. They can be dreamy and intended for no eyes other than those of your crush. They can be supportive and written for the brilliant classmate you met in class. Letters act as a vehicle for your thoughts and feelings — subjecting you to much vulnerability. But it’s the best kind of vulnerability. Be real! Be honest! Tell people how much you appreciate them.

Talk to the stranger sitting next to you

Whether you’re at a coffee shop, in class or on BART, chat with the stranger sitting next to you. Ask them their name, where they’re from, their favorite book or their life goals. Starting a conversation can be intimidating. The person may ignore you and carry on with their day. But the person may also engage with you. You may gain a friend for a few minutes or — who knows — maybe a lifetime!

Speak a foreign language

If you’re learning a new language, seek out a native speaker and strike up a conversation. Learning a language in itself can be unnerving and challenging. Speaking this language to a native speaker is even more intense. You might f— up. You might use the wrong tense. You might get laughed at. But you will gain respect and resilience in the process. Language is mystical and sensational. It’s used to connect people from all backgrounds. It’s meant to be shared with the world!

Do yoga in public spaces

Freeing yourself of care about weird stares will test your threshold for vulnerability like nothing else. Allow yourself to be in the moment, and create a safe space for yourself. Try to photosynthesize under the warm summer sun. Listen to your favorite yoga tunes, and take a moment to slow down in this fast-paced environment. Summer is for revitalizing the soul, nurturing the body. And it’s for becoming comfortable with vulnerability!

Apply to a summer job, lab or internship

It’s not too late to apply for a summer job, lab or internship — opportunities on LinkedIn and Handshake are still plenty. However, applications and interviews can be daunting. You don’t just feel like you’re being judged; you are being judged. Last semester, my interview for the Clif sourcing team ended in tears and heartache. My interview for an internship with the Justice and Diversity Center in San Francisco ended in acceptance and elation! Putting ourselves in vulnerable situations allows for rejection. Rejection allows us to practice resilience and gain even more at the end of the day. Apply to be a summer librarian or for work as a soil researcher! If you don’t apply, you’ll never know.

Cultural norms do not encourage vulnerability. We live in a world where people meet each other through dating apps rather than at an open mic. Rarely do people go up to people they admire in class and tell them how much they have learned from their contributions. Whether it’s sitting next to a stranger in class or joining a club you are afraid of, do something that makes you feel vulnerable every day.

Contact Skylar Schoemig at [email protected].