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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Reflections on taking some advice in stride

<m and I take walks together. Around lakes, around the neighborhood, in arboretums and parks. Sometimes these walks are to take our dogs out, but more often than not they are for the pleasure of walking itself. Even when we are away from home, my mom will find a path on her run in the morning, and later want to walk the same route again with me.

Before returning to school this fall, my mom and I were taking one of our last walks for a while together around a lake.

While our feet are busy walking, my mom and I talk. This particular day, we were talking about my going back to school, reflecting on the two years I’d already spent at Carleton, and what the year ahead might hold.

She said something that has stuck with me since: be vulnerable.

Now, she didn’t mean that I should be weak or actively make myself susceptible to hurt of any kind. She explained that what she meant was she wanted me to be open, to let others in, and go out on a limb. These are things I’m not very good at.

I’m a head-down, do-what-I- need-to-do, plan-ahead person. I don’t like grey areas or the unknown. I am fiercely independent, and I don’t like others to have the power to disappoint or hurt me.

As I reflected on my mom’s advice, I saw that this idea of openness and trust is something that scared me.

But, I thought, maybe I could work on it. I think I am a good friend to others, that I let them be open and vulnerable with me, but I wonder if I allow myself to be the same, to let others know what I need.

In the term and a half that’s passed since I received this advice, I don’t know if I’ve been more vulnerable. In some ways, yes. I’ve gone out on a limb once or twice. Who cares if it didn’t have the exact outcome I had hoped for? But I’m not sure if I’ve fundamentally changed in any way.

I think, instead of focusing on  transformation, I like to focus on growth. The small changes that I couldn’t have seen myself doing in the past. There are little moments or actions when I realized that I’m changing, in a good way.

I drink tea now, something I always wished I enjoyed but now thoroughly do. (It turns out I just needed to try a few teas to find one that got me hooked.) I played squash for the first time in my life this week—my hand hurts from gripping the racket in an awkward way but I had fun. I say yes to more spontaneous events with friends, and yes to myself when I want to do something new or out of the blue.

This is what I want to take away from my mom’s advice on being vulnerable: Be open to grow, and give yourself grace and time to do so. Show others that you’re there and that you care. Know that you can lean on others, all the while valuing your independence and your own company.

I’m still working on this advice and still growing, and I’m thankful to have walks and conversations with my mom to keep me thinking and spur me in the right direction.

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