(Socrates) introduced the idea that individuals could not be intelligent on their own, that they need someone else to stimulate them. . . His brilliant idea was that if two unsure individuals were put together, they could achieve what they could not do separately; they could discover the truth, their own truth, for themselves.
--Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity
For many years, I suffered from undiagnosed depression. Eventually medication and great therapy freed me from the worst effects, but one thing I discovered in the aftermath was that through the years of living with the disease I had learned to be alone.
Depression causes us to isolate ourselves from other people. We feel like crap, think we are alone in feeling like crap, and so we learn the habits of withdrawal and loneliness. Just when we probably most need to be around other people, we are least likely to seek their support.
I was reminded of my years of withdrawal today as I prepare for my upcoming Career Clarity Camp. In the past year in particular, I've become acutely aware of our need as humans to come together for strength, support and conversation.
Unfortunately, we are most likely to seek this when we are feeling good about ourselves and our lives. When we are confused or sad or angry or ashamed, we tend to withdraw, just at the moment when we most need human connection and understanding.
I love the quote above (via David Gurteen) because I think it captures perfectly what I've realized works so well--that when we bring together two unsure individuals, the truth--their truth--will emerge.
The challenge for us is to be willing to come together in our uncertainty. We have to fight our natural tendency to withdraw in those moments of fear and confusion. The answers we seek lie within, but we are most likely to find them in pursuing our connection to others.
Learning alone, having reflection time is important. But even more critical is reaching out to others in our uncertainty and being willing to learn together. This is how we uncover our true brilliance.