Why the Hedgehog Problem Pricks Your Need for Human Connection

Navigate your fear of negative evaluation to live better and be happier.

Sean Kernan
5 min readNov 9, 2023


Pexels via Gary Barnes

Light beamed into the small bedroom through the tan and orange Parisian windows. Julie was fast asleep next to me, looking beautiful and without a care in the world. As I came to my senses, I knew something was off. The room was too bright.

I glanced at the clock and realized we’d slept past our alarm. Our flight was leaving in 90 minutes and the airport wasn’t across the street. I shook Julie awake and we scrambled to gather our belongings. Ten minutes later, we stood on the street, frantically waving down cabs. One pulled up, driven by a brown haired middle-aged man who spoke English. We got in and I said, “We are very late. Can you get us to Charles de Gaulle Airport, quickly?” I was surprised as he suddenly floored it like 007, with zero regard for traffic laws or anyone’s safety. Julie and I started bickering in the back. She turned and barked at me, “I told you to make that alarm louder!”

In the infinite wisdom of a 22-year-old, I said, “Oh would you just calm down?” Her eyes flared and she hissed back, “No you calm down! This is your fault!” Then I noticed the stone-faced cab driver making eye contact with me in his rearview mirror. His face seemed to say, “Are you two really doing this right now?”

Julie and I were both tired. We’d been kept up late by ladies of the night, and not because they were in our bed. The corner below our hotel room was their gathering spot, where they smoked cigarettes, chatted and laughed between customers. But that was only one of our many problems.

We were “new”, in our early twenties, and on our first trip to Europe. It had been a jarring test. We’d spent six months in an idealized long-distance relationship, with long weekends spent together in harmony, and with our bad habits tucked away. Then, we suddenly lived together, and went on a trip in close proximity, staying in cramped European hotels and on our feet for most of the day.

Fortunately, we caught our flight without mowing down any pedestrians. But the trip was a wakeup call: we’d fought the entire time. Both of us got home questioning if we’d be…



Sean Kernan

Former financial analyst turned writer. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.