In June of 1973, I had freshman orientation at the University of Vermont. I met P during that weekend. We hit it off, laughing together, enjoying the weekend. We had similar senses of humor. We thought some of the questions our fellow freshmen had were nuts.
P was from a small town in Vermont. I was from a larger, but small-town thinking city in Massachusetts. It didn’t matter. We were similar in ways that counted.
In the fall, we discovered that we were in the same dorm. Same bio and chem classes, too. We weren’t lab partners, but we discussed the merits of rat dissection, our chem lab write ups, and, of course, our boyfriends, and lack thereof. Or, if we had them (for two weeks), how goofy they were. We drank together at downtown bars in Burlington, because it was legal then for 18-year-olds to drink. We had a blast.
P did well in her coursework. She studied physical therapy. I was, ahem, pre-med. That lasted all of six weeks, when I got C’s on my first hourly exams in bio and chem. I clearly was not going to med school. Now what? P was one of the friends who listened to me try on a different major every week for the next year or so. (It took me a while to decide on Computer Science.)
We remained friends throughout our four years of undergraduate school. I was a bridesmaid at her wedding. We have been there for our children’s celebrations and our respective difficulties. When Mark and I went to Vermont for skiing, we would visit. Sometimes, I was the only visitor, if the skiing was too good because I stopped skiing years ago. Sometimes, we all got together, including the children and husbands.
We connected via chance. We stayed connected through common interests and a wacky sense of humor through school. We remained connected these almost-40 years since we graduated because we care about each other.
We all need connection. We connect and stay connected with people because they mean something to us.
Now, we “connect” with people for business. That is one kind of connection. If we are lucky, that business connection evolves into something deeper.
When we connect with people as humans, as real people, not because we need them for something, but because they mean something to us, we have that authentic connection that we each crave.
We each have our own way of connecting. You might do it differently now than you did at 18. You might do it in a similar way. In order to adapt, to grow, to lead, to solve problems in your context, you need to connect. Without connection, without reaching from your core to the core of another human being, we have no authenticity, and little value. We have no vulnerability.
That’s what makes real connection so difficult. Connecting, creating a real connection, is an act of vulnerability.
Go ahead and connect or reconnect with someone today. See what happens when you bring your full self to the connection.
Who are you offering the gift of your vulnerability, of your authenticity? Real connection is a gift. Offer it wisely.
Dear adaptable problem solvers, this is your question of the week: who have you connected with today?
- Who Is Driving Your Bus?
- What Haven’t You Changed?