Vulnerability is Strength

Electra, an Alaskan woman, sat down beside Andrew after the lunch interval. She was what one would expect of an American woman, matching the stereotype of loud and bubbly.

Her background growing up in a small mining town, she thought, had contributed to her many travels. The tight-knit community offered little freedom from people she didn’t know and getting away seemed a good way to expand her horizons. From half a year in a small fishing village in Honduras to four months in Greece, she had spent considerable time abroad since graduating college.

Her aunts had both worked abroad for much of their professional lives. This had driven Electra to pursue a similar degree.

“Ironically, I kind of want to settle down” she said as she shifted on the uncomfortable stone stool. “I look at my aunts and they’re both unmarried with no children. I think I want to have the experience of being a wife and mother,” she continued.

As children, our role models have a strong influence on what we pursue and the path we take, Andrew thought. Their dreams become ours. This often proves to be problematic as we grow, we realise we in fact have a separate vision but have already invested significant time into another path.

“What about you Andrew? I know you’ve only just arrived but what comes next?” Electra spoke with an annoying American twang.

Andrew spoke his mind, in broad terms anyway. Opening up and being vulnerable were not his strengths. He spoke of two conflicting opportunities – opening of one door would result in closing of the other. Although he was nearly sure of which road to take, the finality of making a decision weighed on him.

Electra began to talk of her childhood friends and how they were all getting married and having children. She went into more depth and Andrew nodded away in agreement.

Through vulnerability, you can really get to know a person, he pondered. Back at home, Andrew was a self-described vault. For some reason, he was proud of developing a hard, impenetrable exterior like the spiky surface of an immature chestnut. People, including those closest to him had given up asking for details for anything remotely personal. He liked it this way. He found though, that they failed to discuss the finer points of their personal lives as a result. They mirrored his behaviour.

Andrew did not mind not knowing the ins and outs of their private lives. He had begun to recognise, however, that by failing to get intimate, it halted progress of a relationship, not allowing it to get to the same depth he had seen others share.

He made a pact to himself that he would be more vulnerable, sharing more of himself in the process. What’s the worst that could happen?

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