When you are vulnerable, you are “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded” as defined by Merriam-Webster. This can be scary, especially to self-reliant people. They would much rather be independent - “not subject to control by others” and “not requiring or relying on others.” If you rely on yourself, you usually like to keep yourself away from situations that require vulnerability. We're not talking about dangerous situations here, ones that could seriously injure you. We're talking about small things, the stuff of everyday life.
The other day, for instance, I thought about contacting a friend I hadn't seen for a while. She isn't a longtime friend; I met her only a few months ago. She's in her 20's, around my age. Friendship can be a complicated thing, especially for young people. Sometimes you don't know if someone really enjoys having you as a friend – or if she merely tolerates you. This was one of those things; I thought maybe I shouldn't bother her. It wasn't like I was going to ask her for a favor or anything; my intent was to basically say, “How are you? What's going on?” But still... Anyway, I sent my friend a short message. Hours later, I received her reply: “I needed that today! How did you know?” Apparently, she had just been in a car accident, which I didn't know about. She was feeling down right then and my message (which I had somewhat reluctantly sent) had cheered her up. Who knew?
When incidents like this happen, you realize that there is such a thing as being too independent. Sometimes we self-reliant people close ourselves off from fully experiencing life's joys and – yes – sorrows. We try to shield ourselves from the possibility of rejection. After all, who wants to crack a joke no one finds funny, or let it be known that you don't understand something everyone else seems to get, or say hello to a passing stranger on the sidewalk who might give you a cold stare in response? But if you close yourself off and try to protect yourself by adopting an “I don't care; you can't touch me” attitude, you end up not only hurting yourself (ironic, isn't it?), but potentially turning a blind eye to the needs of others. You think, “I don't need anything...and neither do they.” But who are we to decide what other people need? Sometimes we don't even know what we ourselves need, because we are too busy trying to convince ourselves that we don't need anything from anybody.