If you look at a crustacean, such as a crab or lobster, you will notice that they have a very tough exoskeleton. Unlike us, they have their skeleton on the outside to act as armour to protect their weak, soft insides. This allows for great protection against injuries and when battling.
But if they are contained in a rigid shell, how do these animals grow? The answer is that they moult. As they grow, crustaceans will periodically shed their armour, so that the growing inner tissues can create a larger exoskeleton to hold their body in. This is a critical period as the animal is most vulnerable, as the new exoskeleton is still soft and does not offer much protection.
Even though human bodies contain skeletons on the inside, we could consider our hearts as having an exoskeleton. Like all animals, we want to avoid pain – both physical and emotional. So as we grow up, we put up resilient walls to try to protect our weak psyche and ego, to prevent being hurt by others. But a heart with a rigid, hard shell cannot grow. Only when we lower our guard, climb out of our shells and allow ourselves to be vulnerable can we grow and mature.
Life is full of suffering and hardship. We all have our scars and traumas, but at the end of the day, we survived. If we decide to shut ourselves in to avoid connection and refuse to open up to others, we may protect ourselves from some pain. But these are the moments – when we feel like all is lost, when we feel so weak and helpless, when we are anguishing – that we are growing as a person.
Don’t be afraid of feeling weak and vulnerable – it is a necessary step for your heart to grow.