Chatting with a dear friend this morning about friendship and connection, I was able to articulate a sea-change in myself in a way that I hadn’t before. As a younger person and a member of online communities from an early age, I expected the world to always be filled with serendipitous and profound connection.

After years of mistakes, I finally realize how rare that connection is for me, and I try to treat it accordingly. But even deep compatibility cannot make up for a fundamental mismatch of emotional investment. That’s the piece that I still struggle with, especially in this world of instant surface interaction. We are trained to skim lightly over the top of each other, to avoid delving too deeply.

When I allow myself to think about how I have sidestepped greater connection by deploying those familiar excuses of “not enough time” and “too introverted” that come so easily to my lips, the truth is that my vulnerability muscles are wildly out of shape. And I have mostly forgotten how to exercise them.

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