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Should We Always Be an Open Book?

Thoughts about vulnerability with others and how it’s sometimes good or dangerous

By Rowan Finley Published 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - January 2024
Photo taken by Angela Roma and for more of her work, see

One thing that I have learned over the last several years is that I shouldn’t be too honest or vulnerable with just anyone. In the past it was nice to be able to say that I was an open book. I was to the point that people knew I’d basically answer any question. Over time people around me realized this, and would ask me all sorts of personal questions that I felt obligated to always answer. Talk about painful! I have learned that we shouldn’t be a completely open book to just everyone. As the old quote goes, “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” That quote is appropriate when thinking about sharing your heart and soul with people. I think it’s important to seek the right people to be vulnerable with because when you do, it builds relational intimacy. I think at the end of the day we’re all seeking meaningful relationships, not heartbreak, right?

How can we seek to live more authentically? If you’re quirky, then don’t be shy about being who you are. But sometimes there are things that you just need to share with those who have consistently shown that they are your true friends. Otherwise, what you do is you set yourself up for heartbreak from many people. Compounded heartbreak from many people all at once is especially devastating in my experience. Specifically, what I think about regarding this idea, is who do I share my struggles in life with? What kind of struggles do you have in life to begin with? Who have you shared those struggles with? How did they respond to that vulnerability coming from you? Did you seek their accountability or support in some way? How did they respond to your request for support? Someone in your life, whether they are a family member, an acquaintance, a friend, or a significant other, instead of word vomiting everything too quickly, try sharing small pieces, or nuggets, of vulnerability with them. It is a test of sorts. I have far too often shared way too much with people and it came back to bite me in more ways than one. Instead of sharing all the chapters of your story with someone, maybe start by sharing part of chapter five for example. Give the person time to process this information about you, and then reflect on if they actually care about learning more about you. Also, consider their intentions for getting to know you.

Another thing that’s been really challenging for me, is knowing when to let go of friendships. I tend to be the type of human who hangs onto friendships longer than the other person typically. It hurts. Then I ask myself, should I keep loving even when it hurts? To a degree, yes, we can keep loving, even when it hurts, but when other people have let go of the friendship, ask yourself where is the motivation coming from for you to hang on to it? Are there other people that you would rather spend time and energy investing in? Will they be more receptive to the person that you are, or will they be more interested in getting to know your true soul? I encourage you to make a list of the top people that really mean the most to you. Keep that list and think about ways that you could invest in those people more this year. When I say “invest in,” I mean how you can be vulnerable with those friends you trust? Be honest with yourself, ask yourself how those people have really invested in you this past year of 2023? Consider writing your friends some notes of gratitude for their friendship.

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About the Creator

Rowan Finley

Father. Academic Advisor. Musician. Writer. Aspiring licensed mental health counselor. My real name is Jesse Balogh.

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Comments (10)

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  • Gargie S Anand6 days ago

    That's true. People go to any extent to quench their curiosity. They take you for granted. Well articled!

  • John Cox22 days ago

    Excellent and insightful! Congratulations on winning top story! Your advice applies to our interactions with others even on Vocal. Thanks for sharing your passion!

  • Matthew van der Wegenabout a month ago

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  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    Great advice here. Not everyone has the best intentions and your opening up is a prize that should be valued, not exploited.

  • Colleen Walters2 months ago

    I completely agree! Our vulnerabilities should only be shown to those who will safeguard them, not exploit them. Our hearts can only be shown to those who we know won’t drop them. This is a great piece of writing.

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  • Celia in Underland2 months ago

    Extremely well written and thoughtful piece. I agree very much. I don't think being open necessarily means vulnerability but I am naturally reticent when I don't know someone.

  • Naveed 2 months ago

    Astounding effort! Keep up the phenomenal work—congrats!

  • Kodah2 months ago

    “ I shouldn’t be too honest or vulnerable with just anyone”- On point! Loved this article! ❤️

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