There have been a lot of discussions in our house revolving around vulnerability the past week. Are you someone who lets it all out, or do you keep it bottled up inside?

I was feeling compelled to write a post about how blessed I am to have really, really amazing friends in my life. The women I surround myself with all have very similar qualities. They are empathetic listeners, supportive, honest, and funny as hell. I came home from a weekend tennis conference with one of these women, and I felt so uplifted. I think it’s incredibly important to spend time with people who make your inner light shine and not with those who dim it.

This morning, however, I woke up in a bad place. The wrong side of the bed. Feeling defeated before I started. Wanting to yell and cry all at once. It is such a crappy place to find yourself. The unexpected death of Kobe Bryant played a strange role in how I was feeling, but that’s a realization for a different post. By the time I arrived at school, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold it together. Then, a co-worker, and one of those special women, dropped off an iced coffee. It was a thoughtful gesture that made me refocus on how blessed I am to have a support system–people who know me and care.

I thought, “Wow, I wish everyone going through something tough had friends like mine.” And then, it clicked. Vulnerability. After watching Brené Brown’s TED Talk, “The power of vulnerability” this weekend, I realized that the people I am closest to are there because I have been willing to be vulnerable with them.

Making connections with others is the most rewarding part of life for me. I strive to find my place amongst others and find ways to empathize and connect through shared life experiences. And I’ve finally understood that vulnerability is the only way to get there. You have to give in order to receive. As Brené puts it, “It appears that it [vulnerability] is [also] the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

My friends always know where I stand. And no, being vulnerable doesn’t always feel great. Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t like ourselves very much, and putting our thoughts and feelings into the universe can feel downright gross and scary. But, there is a real good chance that someone you’re sharing with feels the same way or is going through something similar.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned through this newly-found perspective after the birth of our daughter is that nothing is guaranteed. And you can try to spend your life avoiding things that are uncertain or suppress the emotions that make us feel fear and shame, but we also have the choice to be vulnerable–to lean into the moments where we know there are no promises, no guarantees that it’s going to work out the way we expect, and just enjoy the journey. I think when we choose the latter, we will find that we are no longer on the journey alone, but we have friends who have also come along for the ride.