Tomorrow, I am driving across to Cambridge, to meet seven people I've never met before, and one I've met once.We are all members of an online support network for women who no longer drink. I've been looking forward to meeting everyone for weeks, but now that it's upon me, I am feeling unaccountably nervous. Goodness knows why. Because on one level, I know these online friends much better, and on a deeper level, than many folk I know in the flesh. We support each other through thick and thin, and the network is a solid online community.
The arrangements for meeting up were getting a bit complicated. Which was making me feel a bit panicky. A whole platoon of "What if?" questions were springing up in my head, and I was on the edge of pulling out of the whole thing altogether, and having a quiet day at home.
Then I remembered something Brene Brown wrote about vulnerability, in her wonderful book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead:
"When it comes to vulnerability, connectivity means sharing our stories with people who have earned the right to hear them - people with whom we've cultivated relationships that can bear the weight of our story."
And I realised that these online friends of mine were such people. So I reached out and shared how panicky I was feeling, and asked to be met at the station. Straight away, two people got back to me, to let me know they would be there, waiting for me. So I will be going, after all.
Small kindnesses make big differences.