LOOKING into his eyes, I saw it. He is a confident, mature young man; a leader comfortable in himself. No real visible fear in him.
Yet, there was a glimpse into his very human heart that showed me we have the capacity to draw social confidence from this truth: every person, no matter how confident they appear, is vulnerable to rejection.
We know it as we understand ourselves. We all crave acceptance. We’ll all driven to comparison. We may falsely believe we’re alone in our disadvantage; that nobody else feels quite as vulnerable as we do. It’s a lie. Change anyone’s circumstances to the negative and their light darkens. They enter a turmoil any human being finds challenging. And it’s their character that determines their response.
As we encounter our fellow human being, male or female, old or young, advantaged or disadvantaged, we encounter someone like us. We’re more the same than we’re different.
As we look into another person’s eyes, curious to peer into the windows of their soul, inherently interested in them, we can gain confidence that we are in fact encountering a form of ourselves.
Because they’re human and we too, also, are human, we grasp how tenuous interaction is – we know we can upset them as they too might be able to upset us. See how all people are vulnerable? See how our fear for upsetting people is our acknowledgement that they’re vulnerable – that we’re not the only vulnerable ones.
We all have the capacity for fear because we all need to love and be loved. Understand this about the person we’re anxious with and suddenly we’re less anxious.
Social anxiety builds when we magnify our vulnerabilities and lessen anther’s. But we are all vulnerable.
Steve Wickham is a writer and pastor who holds degrees in Science, Divinity, and Counseling.