If you think of yourself as a sphere, with different densities on the inside and the outside, how are you built? Are you hard on the outside and soft inside, or do you have a squishy outside and a hard core?

If you have a hard shell, many things bounce right off of you. It’s not easy to affect you. Your shell protects you from many things thrown your way and your squishy core can rest easy. Until a really big-enough force comes along and manages to penetrate your hard shell. When that happens, your core, which gets softer the deeper you go, is very vulnerable.

If your shell is soft, on the other hand, you will be affected by many things. Every speckle thrown your way will get under your skin at least a little bit. It’s difficult for you to ignore things and you’re visibly affected by them. While you look scarred, however, your core is pretty much intact. Your density increases the deeper you get and the core is difficult to reach, let alone break.

This very-thinly-veiled metaphor about one’s character has been stuck in my head since I was very young. I’m not sure what triggered it, but it feels like an early memory, which has been nevertheless vividly present in my head all this time.

In your arguments and discussions you can either be stubborn and aggressive in the moment, but long-term-variable, or you can be easily-persuaded in the moment, but stable over long periods of time.

I recently realized it’s all similar to the question of designing robust systems. The most obvious, but mostly wrong, instinct we have is to put a lot of effort into preventing problems from happening. What seems to work out better in practice, however, is to accept that problems will happen and put more effort into developing ways of dealing with them.

Your shell will give in, sooner or later. Spend your density on your core.