Connection. Vulnerability. Authenticity. These words have become my mantra.
Connect to other people. Be vulnerable. Be authentic.
Always a loner, I have learned (somewhat to my dismay) that I can’t go it alone. Being somewhat proud of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, this really bugs me. Almost as much as how networking determine’s one career path.
But looking back (and onward), those times I cherish most, I spent with others. It didn’t matter whether it was serious or not. Banding together with others creates something greater than any individual could have accomplished alone – whether it be a marketing project, a dissertation paper or a kickass game of Magic.
Connection gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Even more than the books we write and the plaques we hang on the wall, it’s about the connections we make on the way and what results from them.
However, that meaning and purpose is only as great as the authenticity and vulnerability we display to others. Deep, meaningful relationships flow from authenticity. Our courage to share our imperfections and messiness draws us together. We can only join together when we acknowledge our mutual humanity.
Which, don’t get me wrong. Being authentic and vulnerable is scary. It’s not socially acceptable. We all know about the following dialogue:
“Hi there! How are you today?”
“Fine. And you?”
“Okay. Well, good to see you.”
I hear that opening phrase and feel an exploding urge to divulge my fears and insecurities. To state why everything is as far from fine as humanity is to curing cancer.
But social etiquette beseeches us to follow its law. You’re fine, they’re fine, everyone’s just fine… don’t rock the boat, and the boat won’t rock you!
But the core of meaningful connection depends upon us reaching past these norms. We must be vulnerable. It is the only way we can become greater than ourselves and find true meaning.
Yet another stumbling block stands in the way of creating meaningful connection: our own sense of worthiness.
If we feel we are not worthy of love and belonging, any relationship makes us feel, by default, inauthentic because we don’t deserve to be treated so well. How can one be vulnerable and authentic to a friend, a lover, or a partner when they feel they don’t deserve love? And so, by default, they must be inauthentic in order to hide their inadequacies?
This is my next task. Before I can find meaning through my connections, I must strive to be vulnerable… to not be afraid, and to realize that I am a self worth knowing.