Let Yourself Be Vulnerable

Letting people in isn’t easy for me.

I’m the type of person who can be friendly with anyone. I can strike up conversation, joke around, and have fun even if I just met someone.

I’m not the type of person to build and maintain friendships, though. I have a hard time keeping in contact with people, even if I truly connect with them. While any relationship should be a two-way street, I just can’t seem to be the first person to initiate contact or make plans, even if I want to.

In college, this wasn’t a huge problem for me. I became really close with a group of people within the first month or so of school. Now, six years later, I still consider them my best friends. We all lived in the same dorm, and we took a lot of the same classes freshman year. Building those relationships came easy.

Since graduating, I’ve had a much harder time building and maintaining friendships in Cincinnati. I would become close with people for a little while and then just stop trying.

Within the past year, though, I’ve become best friends with someone who I think (and hope) will be one of my best friends for life.

We’ve been working together for about two years now, and I always thought he was fun to be around at work but never really spent time with him outside of work until about a year ago.

When the pandemic hit, all of us at the restaurant where I work became much closer. The staff is much smaller than it used to be, so we’re around each other a lot. At the beginning of the pandemic when it was really important to keep our social circles small, we wound up spending a lot of time with each other outside of work. As restrictions loosened and the spread of COVID decreased, we all, of course, started slowly going back to our regular lives.

I don’t exactly know how or why, but my now-best-friend and I just kept hanging out. The more we talked and spent time together, the more I realized how similar we are and how much we have in common. We have each other’s backs, and knowing that I can turn to him in times of need—and vice versa—is so powerful.

As someone who’s always kept a tight circle of friends and had a hard time letting new people in, it feels so good calling him my best friend and letting myself feel vulnerable enough to do so.

When I actually build relationships with people, those people mean the world to me. I will fight for them, support them, encourage them, and love them with all my heart. Because of that, it’s scary to let down my guard enough to actually let someone in. Looking back at the first time I told him I considered him my best friend in Cincinnati, even just admitting that was difficult. I was afraid he wouldn’t feel the same way, and I was afraid of being hurt. I still am, but I would so much rather risk that hurt than risk losing the friendship we’ve built.

This morning, I was having a really rough day and saw he’d sent me a TikTok about how becoming best friends with someone in less than a year is one of the best feelings in the world. It made me so emotional because it made me realize how important he’s become to me in such a short amount of time. This person I barely knew a year ago is now one of my favorite people, and that feeling is so beautiful.

At this point in my life, I feel so at peace and happy. I think a lot of that comes from growing my relationships with others and letting them in. I have such a strong support system, and I know that even when things get difficult and life becomes stressful, I can turn to the people I love and care about and they’ll be there for me.

Building strong connections is so hard, and it’s so scary because you put your heart on the line by letting yourself be vulnerable in front of someone. The rewards are so powerful, though, and they’re so worth the risk of being hurt.

As always, stay safe and stay healthy.


Kayla W.