I continuously declare connection to be one of my core values. I love to grab a coffee with a friend, go to a yoga class with my community, and there isn’t a time when I am out that I don’t run into someone I know. And yet, I often feel isolated and alone. What is that?
I have been exploring the concept of tribe for years now. I don’t mean how many likes I get on Instagram, or how recognized I am. I mean my real live tribe. The people I call when things aren’t perfect.
I look around and see people who have neighborhoods with open doors, the kind of community I felt when I was young. I see friendships that know no bounds when it comes to sharing, giving, and feeling. I want that. I want that neighborhood, those friendships, all of that. Where are my people and my friends?
Recently I have realized that I know what I am missing. It is my contribution and willingness to give and to let in. I keep myself quite guarded and isolated when it comes to my friendship contributions. What that has created for me is the experience of superficial relationships.
What is there to do about it you ask? I have been intentionally noticing things that create an openness in my relationships, and I am sharing them here as both an offering for you and a way to be accountable. Some of these things may seem obvious, and some may even shock you as things I don’t usually do.
Here they are; my commitments to community and connection:
· I talk to the other parents at Henry’s events. I did this for the first time at Henry’s basketball tournament this weekend and met someone I can’t wait to spend time with again. It was the last game of the season. Seriously, an entire season went by where I didn’t speak to a soul at his games.
· I pay attention to people’s names. This is one of those embarrassing things I have done. I haven’t listened to people when they tell me their name, which makes it “way too difficult” to approach them again. I may have to get over myself and ask a few names, some I should have known for years. No joke.
· I open up my home. I always have an excuse for why we shouldn’t have people over. I grew up with a “your house needs to look a certain way for people to see it” attitude. We actually love to entertain, so time to let my guard down, be vulnerable and messy, and let people in. Literally.
· I visit. This is my favorite thing. It is something I have committed to in the past and really haven’t done. People do “coffee dates” now; visiting is not a coffee date. The idea of visiting is something much more spontaneous and simple. It means getting uncomfortably familiar with people, and asking for “unscheduled” time. Doing things like “dropping by” or “meeting up” at the last minute.
Connection is not a passive thing. It is the exchange of energy; sometimes you give more and sometimes you need to receive. Let’s be in conversation about connection. I mean real live, in person, human connection. What are your connection commitments to each other?