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Who can’t react to this word in some way. Trust. “We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” Walter Anderson (1903-1965) was an artist, author, and naturalist. Though often alone exploring the natural habitats in Mississippi, he certainly was not a hermit: times of solitude gave him time to reflect on relationships.

Everyone needs time to reflect and think about one’s place in the world. Trusting others begins with knowing and trusting ourselves. We have to be aware of who we are, what we stand for, and how we want to live, before we can find our place in society, engaging with other people.

Self-trust, and building self-confidence, isn’t a given; most of us have to work on it. I did. In my younger years, I felt that my place was pleasing others, and after a while, I realized I didn’t know what actually pleased me — what made me happy, what gave me joy and satisfaction. I had to start searching, and after years, I’m pretty much in a place where I know what I need, know how to ask for it, and whom to ask. You can’t rely on people who can’t give you what you need, and sometimes that’s disappointing — even cathartic.

The hardest thing for me was realizing that my parents were needy themselves, so it wasn’t possible for them to be trusted to provide for my emotional well-being, thus the flailing around in my twenties and thirties. When I realized this, I was able to look for people whom I could trust to support me in my personal growth.

It’s hard to trust, and it’s hard to be trusted. It takes time and consistency, and, as Anderson said, allowing yourself to be vulnerable at times — willing to trust whether it’s in other people, God, or your intuition. If we’re lucky, we find a few people whom we can invest our trust in, who will help us along life’s road, pointing us in the right direction, and support our development. The key is finding people who will not only be friends, but interested in seeing you grow into the best person you can be: happy, fulfilled, and trustworthy.