The Soul-Probing Question- Alyssa Henry

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Was I the only one who approached the NSLF Alumni Event with a mild sense of dread? Excitement, certainly, but also that niggling feeling of unease that comes when you know you’re about to be pushed outside of your comfort zone.

As Friday night rolled around and I headed off to the Saxton’s (secretly grateful I had avoided the formidable Jock Cameron dinner), I wondered what I would say when I would inevitably be put on the spot tonight. And yes, I may have mentally prepared a few clever (or at least I thought) comments.

Dinner was delightful. A group of unusually intelligent, unusually interesting and unusually engaging young adults, all gathered expecting to have conversations of some weight and depth.

Dessert came and went, the night drew on, no round-the-table sharing question had been forthcoming – and I thought, maybe I’ve escaped? Maybe I won’t have to bare my soul tonight?

But, to my surprise, intermingled with the relief I felt was a clear sense of disappointment.

Yes, I’d avoided an uncomfortable situation, side-stepped the potential for social embarrassment and awkwardness, but I’d also lost the chance to be truly known by those around me, and to have the privilege of seeing a genuine glimpse of each person’s true self.

Then it struck me: how often do I make this choice in my life? When given the opportunity of greater discomfort but greater joy, or continuing on safely unchanged and unchallenged, I fear I often choose the latter.

Even though I profess my life purpose to be knowing and loving others, my actions suggest my purpose is to just get through with minimal possibility of shame or unease.

The greatest risk each of us can take is to expose ourselves. To bring our true, unguarded self to the table with the possibility of rejection. It hurts and it is terrifying.

But the alternative is more terrifying. The alternative is that we remain safe, but unseen. Shielded, but impenetrable.

Yes, it is risky to let yourself be known. But it’s downright fatal to avoid it because it’s the only way to experience true love, true joy, true connection.

PS: You’ll be happy to know, the soul-probing question was eventually asked. And many at the table made the choice to risk greatly. Outside the comfort zone we relished in the vulnerability of it all – the joy of sharing a piece of our stories.


Title: The Soul-Probing Question
Author: Alyssa Henry
Format: Blog Post
Year Published: 2014
Publisher: National Student Leadership Forum

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