Embracing Authentic Connections
I always begin my events by asking the participants to share why they chose to attend, and the answers always vary: often it’s the topic, frequently it’s because a friend invited them, sometimes it’s a specific struggle, and nearly universally it’s for making connections. Yes, connections – the desire for a deeper bond with other women.
We all know a LOT of people – people from childhood, school, work, the gym, community organizations, spiritual institutions, etc. And different connections serve different purposes and needs – there are women who I stand nearby in gym classes whose names I don’t know but I love exercising near them. I have childhood friends with whom we go for years without speaking and pick up right where we left off. I know people whose mere presence makes me smile. I have mom friends with whom I’ve shared the growing pains and joys of raising children, and Zen center friends with whom I’ve shared my spiritual journey. And I love the synergy of a large event – be it marching in a Women’s March, attending an awesome concert, or even sharing in grief at a funeral.
But for many of us, few things are as precious and rewarding as deep, no holds bar connections; the ones where the other person really knows you – your fears and regrets as well as your passions and desires – and that you know deeply in return. These relationships allow you to be your authentic self without any masks or pretense. They are truly a gift.
So why then aren’t all connections like this? Because connections of this kind require vulnerability. They are about what’s below our protective armor where the gentle essence of who we are lies: our longstanding beliefs, imprints of our defining moments, our deep hurts, our strongest desires, and more. Sharing these is akin to baring your soul, which is both liberating and uncomfortable. For some, the fear of sharing their true self is simply too scary.
As we enter the middle and change with age, and become more comfortable with ourselves, the desire for more meaningful relationships is more compelling. We have a greater appreciation of the preciousness of time and less interest in being around people where we pretend to be someone who we are not. We may find that some existing relationships aren’t as gratifying, or that we are drawn towards more like-minded people. As difficult as these changes may be, I’ve found it more difficult to not honor what is calling for change.
Embracing events offer a venue and opportunity to lower your mask and authentically connect with other women. The venue is safe and supportive, and the process evokes openness and honesty. And because within this gathering we draw out the “real you,” the connections women make are deep and genuine.
In sync with the 2019 Women’s March on January 19th, my next (and last for awhile) workshop will be Sunday January 20th (which is also a 3-day weekend for many). I’d love to connect with each of you both as sisters marching among thousands of other women and, more intimately, at my workshop the following day. The thought of a women’s weekend literally thrills me.
Wishing you all a remaining 2018 filled with love, light, and deep connections.