Age has granted me the clarity needed to understand something that has plagued my understanding since I was very young. Even as a six-year-old I remember watching people hurt, and watching those hurt people turn away and push away those people they longed to be close to.
I understood, as a teenager, that the reason for this was primarily fear of rejection. Never short on hubris or words I have attempted many times, with varying degrees of success, to open their eyes to the fact that they hold the power to end their own pain, and the pain of others, by reaching out to them. By turning toward people and sharing their fears and passions we create connections that heal old wounds and repair burnt bridges. I explain, fruitlessly, that by sharing our fears and passions we open the door to others to do the same, bolstering them by our courage.
What age has finally granted me is the knowledge that reaching out to others when one is afraid requires a profound amount of courage that most people cannot summon. And, that when a person (of any age) can and does summon the courage, one must act to recognize it for the bravery it is, no matter the outcome.
Vulnerability is so courageous when it comes from someone who has been hurt. We have all been hurt.