Soft nature does not mean weaknessLast week I blinked up at Nate with tears welling in my eyes. I was sitting on the edge of an unfamiliar bed in a hotel on the outskirts of Vegas. “The truth is that I'm a little bit lost right now.”

“Maybe,” he said earnestly, “you just have to get lost in order to be found.”

These last few weeks have been a lesson in softness and strength for me. I've been struggling with work-life balance (the former has a tendency to overwhelm the latter), and it came time for me to close some doors.

I hate closing doors. You know how it's said that some people wear their heart on their sleeve? I tack my heart onto doors. I put my all into every endeavor I take on and I care SO much. Walking away from those doors is like stepping back from a little piece of me. Sometimes, it's hard to see that one thing is leading to the next.

I didn't look for my latest project. I got lost amidst a series of other people's tasks, deadlines and priorities and it fell into my lap. Clear as day, I suddenly knew that I was meant to be doing something other than what I was currently focusing on. Isn't that how the greatest things in life come about? You go along with a plan in your mind and – BAM! – life hits you, unexpectedly, square in the nose.

angry-looking coupleWhen I happened to meet Nate, I was rushing down my dorm hall on the way to see a friend in the next building. I was so focused on that other destination that it took me an entire year to let my guard down and really see the person I was supposed to marry. The best things don't go according to plan. The best things catch you off guard.

I have a tendency to build this strong shell around myself like a sea turtle, protecting my softest parts. I set my sights on something and hurtle forward with blinders on. But my greatest connections have been made when I've slowed and let my guard down. There's a certain strength in softness, in admitting that you don't have all of the answers.

How do you summon strength to get through difficult times without shutting off the softer side of yourself?