Doug Waltman

Soft and Vulnerable

I don’t think I “got it” the first two times around. I thought I got it, and I may have even talked like I got it. But this year I feel it deep inside of me. It hurts in a good way.

I feel as though this year’s TriConf was tailored with me in mind, but I know the truth is far from that. TriConf is done with the community in mind. I am incredibly happy to be a part of that community. Let me share with what I’ve been learning by experience. TriConf marks the turning of a new chapter in my adventure.

The only thing of any value in your life are your relationships. Let me rephrase that in case you missed it: People are the only thing in life worth a damn. People can fill you with a sense of purpose. People give love freely. People make life interesting and worth living.

It took the departure of a friend for me to realize how delicately my world is perched upon the shoulders of my friends and colleagues. You hold me up. You are my people — my family. I owe my family better than what I’ve been giving. Fear has been getting my way. I have been afraid of letting people in.

The pun-making, goofy guy who loves to make you equally groan and laugh is a trope. He guards the soft and vulnerable parts of me that I rarely expose. He protects me from anxiety and disappointment. He prevents me from getting hurt by keeping you all at arms length. He keeps me numb and prevents me from feeling. Inside, I long for a deeper connection. I realize that I need to discard my narrative.

I need to let the people in my life know how much they mean to me. Most of you I know on only a basic level, yet you affect me deeply. You remind me I am not alone when I feel so small. You inspire me to press on when I want to give up so badly. You save me and you don’t even know it…

My business card says “superhero”. That’s not me… it’s a reflection of the rest of you.

Thank you in so many ways.