Vulnerability. How often we shy away from it only to realize later that if we had just opened up a little and been brave enough to be real, we may have created the foundation of a truly honest relationship. But we’re afraid … afraid to expose ourselves and possibly become the target of someone else’s dysfunction or criticism. We cannot continue to live this way. Mankind as we know it will simply cease to exist if we don’t develop the courage to allow others to see us for who we truly are. Being vulnerable is hard, and it’s scary. No sane person enjoys rejection and ridicule. But how can we earn someone’s love, respect, or understanding if we always play it safe? Always hide our intellect and character behind humor and passive-aggressive, socially acceptable dialog? It takes courage to be real. And you can be real, you can be totally honest without attacking others. You can learn to listen to different points of view with the intent of understanding their perspective, and I think you will find that they, in turn, will be willing to listen to yours. Remind yourself that we have more in common with each other than differences. If you focus on the common threads that run through everyone’s lives, it’s much easier to identify with them and be willing to reveal and share your own unraveled experiences. They will hear you. And if that person you’ve opened up to rejects you? Clearly they are not as evolved and mature as you, and you are better off without them. Be brave, stay real, and always love yourself first and foremost.