A lesson in trust…

… I trust you to still stand with me

I used to think that I am a loner; that I am pretty good with being alone and on my own. I don’t need anybody. In fact, why choosing relationships at all? They tie you down – that doesn’t go well with a packed travel schedule.

I have been on the move the last couple of years, and maybe will be in the future as well. Never staying in a place for more than a year. And when moving again, not moving cities, but moving countries. I like moving around – country hopping you could say.

Of course, I have met lovely people everywhere and I have long-term friendships – I am not completely socially incapable! But a committed friendship? Why? They have their lives, I have mine. It sounds harsh and it is not that I didn’t truly care for my friends. It is just that I didn’t want to rely on them; to make myself dependent on them.

I have presumably achieved so much:  academic degrees, speaking different languages, feeling at home around the word, travelling on my own, good in small talk…so a confident, strong woman who could basically aim at anything. The problem is – this is not me.

I mean, it is me. But most of the time I am more absorbed by other thoughts that I feel small and alone. So why does one choose to not engage with people when they feel lonely? Especially if one has people one can call friends.

Well, it depends: feeling unimportant, insecure or too scared. Why is the obvious first step sometimes the hardest; that is talking to other people?

I can only speak for myself. For a long time I didn’t know what was going on. So if you can’t really put it into words because you don’t understand it yourself, it is hard to talk to someone else. And I am really bad in drawing…so I couldn’t even put it into a picture!

And then it was a long way for me to learn that some people might simply care for me. Not on a ‘small talk level’, but genuinely care.

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How do you come to build meaningful relationships? It depends on what is meaningful to you. At its core it’s about two people making a commitment; two people being willing to commit to each other. Mutual acceptance and the desire to have the other as an active part in your life.

A relationship is meaningful because it gives meaning to your life. Because it reflects your values and beliefs. Because it challenges your values and thus, expands your worldview. Because having that person in your life makes it more worthwhile – despite the regular challenges.

You cannot simply decide that a relationship is meaningful, you have to live it. It develops over time. It needs patience. And eventually you end up with that mysterious thing called trust. Like a bond. Again, you cannot decide to trust somebody. Okay, you can and I do it that way. Yet, even then, it needs time. Brené Brown once described trust as a jar filled with marbles. For every person in our life there is a marble jar. In the beginning, it is empty or filled with few marbles. Over time, as people act in a way that demonstrates trustworthiness to us the jar fills up with marbles. Of course, as our trust is broken marbles are taken out of the jar. In this sense, trust is something that everyone needs to earn. And it is something fragile and developing. It is not a fixed decision as it develops in interaction.

Oh gosh, I sometimes still have a hard time with that. Sometimes I doubt if I can tell people who are close to me everything. If they would be interested; what they might think about me. Because if you decide to share you make yourself vulnerable. And maybe you are even more afraid about your own admittance than their reaction.

Here is the good news: it is hard for everyone. I know this because I see other people struggling with it as well. Many people decide not to share, to keep everything behind walls – however, they still feel vulnerable. Not really a win-win situation. I know this because I have been there.

To me, rather than earning trust as a reward it is a gift. I make myself vulnerable, I share with you my most precious gift: my greatest joys and biggest fears. And I trust you to still stand with me.

People often surprise me with their positive reactions. So have a little confidence in those around you. They might surprise you too.

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