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For much of my life, I have been most comfortable being alone. I don’t think I was always this way, but based on events in my life, I developed a belief that I would be better off if I were alone. I spent time with friends, but at the end of the day, I gravitated to being alone. Now that I am older and wiser, I think this was a defense mechanism that protected me from being hurt or worse being rejected because I wasn’t good enough. This approach to life is a common theme that has played out in romantic relationships, as well.

Recently I have discovered the power of connection and how fabulous life can be when you surround yourself with people you can trust and on whom you can depend. I work with an awesome group of people, and I love my job because of this. I go to work and face challenging situations but know that I am supported and can lean on a fantastic team of intelligent, resourceful, and thoughtful people who have a deep interest in our combined success. Living this way is a new experience for me professionally, and I wish I had allowed myself to be open it earlier in my life. The power of the team is incredible and supports the success of everyone involved.

I have experienced this in my personal life, as well. For so long, I have lived like a loner. I interacted with people and remained on the surface with my interactions. Rarely did I delve deeply into the core of who I was or what I was experiencing. This, too, was part of a defense mechanism to protect me. I am beginning to realize that while this approach served me in some ways, it became a barrier to what I truly desired.

Connection is something I have longed for, but my approach to the world and relationships didn’t facilitate the outcome for which I yearned. I didn’t know any other way because, at the root of it, I believed that if I didn’t protect myself first and foremost, then I would get hurt and be rejected. I am so grateful for my recent experiences, both professionally and personally. I am showing up daily as I am and finally experiencing connection in a way I have never felt it before. People appreciate me for who I am and what I bring every day. I am choosing to live vulnerably every day. I admit what I don’t know, I ask for help, I share my ideas, I laugh, I open up and show sides of myself I have hidden from people.

This new way of living has yielded enormous returns. It has reduced my stress, it has supported my positive mindset, it has paved the way for genuine relationships, and it has allowed people to see the real me. Through this, I am seeing that I am a pretty great person, and I have much to offer. The negative narrative is getting quieter and replaced with positive thoughts.

Messages to my daughters: You are not alone. The world is full of people who love and care about you. Trust them enough to be vulnerable and show up as yourself. Remove the masks, take off the armor, and embrace their love and support. The support and positive energy that is created when people work together is impressive. These connections will catapult you and those around you to new heights.

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