Why Connection Makes Us Stronger, Not Weaker

Relationships have never been my strong suit. I can’t entirely pinpoint why this is considering almost everyone in my inner circle of friends and family are in strong, healthy and loving relationships, but I struggle to trust and let people in.

I worry that they secretly don’t like me or that they judge me and see me as less. I worry that I might go wrong somewhere along the way and be the cause of a close loss. I stress about setting boundaries and getting hurt. I learned over time to make and keep friends but from a distance, that way I could leave when I wanted to and was not expected to do much for others. This was done to minimize my losses and avoid responsibilities that put others well-being in my hands. I didn’t want to fail myself or others. I would like to mention that this is less of a problem in my life as of more recent, but I will tell you what the secret was to overcome this fear and insecurity of sharing my life, thoughts and feelings with another.

The Secret of Seeing

I’m not typically the type of person to feel inspired by a simple quote but this one absolutely changed my life. French author and professional mountain climber, Rene Daumal, stated,

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

Rene Daumal

This single quote has given me new perspective to several different trials and situations I was struggling through. I’d like to think that the summit is personal happiness. We can hit milestones along the way that give us greater beauty and excite us to continue, but we also hit points in that hike that aren’t so pleasant. We may hit a steep part, run into an area with thorns and poison ivy, hit a roadblock that led to complete discouragement. On our own, it may be easier to say that we have seen enough and give up after hitting such a “defeating” point.

Personal motivation can easily dwindle when we face obstacles that we see as too challenging to overcome. In reality we all know that going back down the mountain is easier to do than going up it right? We are then left to decide if reaching the summit is truly worth it. We are stuck in this pickle where we want to reach the summit and we’ve had glimpses of what it might be like on our way but the obstacles we are facing are exhausting and overwhelming.

Seeing the Summit Differently

Now this is where my AH-HA moment was. We are not the only person in this world trying to reach our own summits. Even if everyone is standing on the same summit, they see it through their own eyes and it means something to them different than what it means to you, but that does not mean they didn’t face their own obstacles same as you. I learned to feel a greater sense of unity and humanity. Those that are on their way down changed by what they had seen are there to encourage me on my way up stating, “You’re almost there! It’s just around the corner! You can do this! It’s a MUST SEE view!” Whereas those ahead of you are able to look back and help guide you through the rough terrain just up ahead. Providing you tips on how to get through that road block that might help make your road block a little easier.

Not only that, but you now have a responsibility to encourage those behind you because of what you now know, but also rely on those who have seen and overcome to help you continue. We all want it. We all want to reach the summit. Yeah the paths might be different, but the support in any sense can be appreciated and useful. I learned that I had something to learn from everyone. I also learned that I had something to offer just as much as they did. I had gone through my own obstacles and in some way to someone, my experiences can help them overcome what they are going through. I am not alone and although there are people I struggle to trust more than others, I learned to hold tight to those that empower me and support me and also learned that those I empower often will then empower me.

Obstacles are a part of the journey and overcoming them means that we are moving forward. I focus on strengthening the relationships I have so that I might be supported in my times of struggle and despair.

“The humanity we all share is more important than the trials we may not.”

Elyn Sacs