I Need Connection

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It’s so much easier to write the resolution than the journey. But sometimes, in the moment of clarity you can see in retrospect what you needed. We continue forward, with the idea that we know what we’re doing, but often we don’t know what we were looking for until we find it.

This past week was difficult. With multiple final papers due, my schedule is wiped clean so I can sit down and write, research, repeat. I have a mixed relationship with writing essays. On one hand, there are great things to be learned in forming an idea using other people’s ideas. But mostly, this week I have denied myself most of what makes me feel whole in order to meet deadlines. And sometimes, that’s life.

This week, and many others, I forget how incredibly important it is to simply connect with another human. To be able to express the confusion and sorrow that we are feeling, and to hear that someone else feels it too. To my dear friend Anna, thank you for reminding me of what I had forgotten.

I hate loneliness. I hate it because it fills so much of our lives. It’s the reason I’ll have music playing wherever I go. It’s the reason there is always a tv on, a phone in hand, or a computer screen open. We live in a way that praises self-accomplishment, and individuality. We pride ourselves on our uniqueness, but at the same time we are terrified of being different enough that people won’t want us around. I try to find the balance everyday of satisfying the parts of me that want to be expressed fully, while trying to be normal enough so as not to stick out too much. And it’s not because I don’t know who I am. It’s because sometimes I’m not always sure who to be in the world.

But I live within this paradigm as if I understand its purpose. To achieve, to succeed, to compete, to be the best.
Because nothing, absolutely nothing is more satisfying to me than sitting across from someone who says “Yeah. I understand. I’ve been there” Nothing beats revealing the parts of you that are scared, insecure, overwhelmed and exhausted and for someone to recognize that within themselves. To be with someone in the depths of life, not just the surface. I’m so tired of walking around acting like i’ve got my shit together, like I’m on a train of amazingness and there’s no stopping me!
Or, on the other hand, connecting with others only by means of complaining. Of how life isn’t giving me what I wanted, and how I’m annoyed, angry or indifferent. When I am unable to express my real feelings and experiences with others, they get bottled up in my head and I begin not to trust myself. With no affirmation, no outward processing, no connection, I become the enemy of my own mind. I think that I must be doing something to feel this way, or else I blame the only good things in my life that I could place blame (aka my partner). I’m left up to my own devices, and let me tell you they are limited. Because I am just one experience. I am just one perspective. And I can’t fix everything myself.

I want to re-label “anxiety” with “need connection”. Because then I wouldn’t be able to cut myself short by saying “I’m going to stay in because I’m feeling anxious”. What’s really happening is I desperately need connection, but maybe i’m scared to be vulnerable. Maybe I’m convinced that I’ll figure it out on my own.

No. That’s not it Em, stop trying to be your own therapist.

I NEED CONNECTION. I need to joke about the ridiculousness of trying to write about the history of a marginalized group, as if “they” have one, a complete and documented story that can be told within 500 words. I need to talk about how I can’t stand walking into a classroom to sit beside one another to learn about how to show “empathy” when we could be connecting with one another and actually experiencing it. I need to talk about how I’ve been so emotionally overwhelmed that I try to control it by telling my partner he’s being selfish. I need to talk about how I want community, how I want to know people. I need to talk about how I don’t know how to navigate a world of “how are you” “fine” because all I want to say is “I am so freaking overwhelmed right now.”

I need connection. I need people. I need someone to say “Hey, it makes sense that you’re feeling that way, sounds like you have a lot on your plate”. Because yeah, I have a LOT going for me, and life COULD be worse, BUT THAT’S NOT A REASON TO DENY YOUR FEELINGS.

Because I am feeling. I am always, feeling. And I’m tired of just thinking about it. Labeling it “in my head” or “my mind is racing” and trying to push it away. Maybe our erratic minds and constant need to be doing something is because we are terrified to face the fact that we are lonely, and everybody else is busy.

I know people make a lot of empty promises these days. We make plans and cancel, we put that we “might” go to things on Facebook, and we settle for harmless, easy, conversation. But if you feel like talking about what’s really happening in you life, or what you’re feeling, or what you just realized, or what you’re really excited about, and you don’t know who to tell, I would really love to hear it. My email is emily.scott93@gmail.com, and since I am a university student, my computer is open almost all hours of the day. Feel free to email me the real “how are you” and I’d love to chat.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel like talking to me because a. you don’t know me b. you don’t want to email your feelings to someone on the internet… then please, if you need connection like I do, find the people in your life that care about you and let them know you need them. I don’t think we are good at needing people these days, but I’ll be the first to say that I do. And every area of my life starts crumbling down when I forget that.

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It’s time I tell you why I love you

Sometimes I wonder what it would take to bring us out of whatever darkness we are struggling against. I strive to know what the key message is that someone might hear to liberate them from their pain, or the experience that might shed light on whatever it is they are afraid of.

It changes I’m sure, and every day I am learning new ways to both give and receive that love that will hopefully mean something to someone. The compassion that will stretch beyond a moment of selflessness, and the empathy that surpasses a moment of putting yourself in another’s shoes.

What is it that truly changes us?

What is it that gives us a lasting sense of freedom and peace?

There are many answers to this question, in fact I think we are all searching for something to satisfy our hunger for love and acceptance. And while there may be infinite ways for this to be expressed, here is one that made a difference for me, maybe it can for you too. As I write about my life, I hope I am articulating it with as much honesty and transparency as I can.

My beautiful friend Greer wrote something for me, and it made me cry. Full on sobs are pretty foreign to me these days, but there was definitely a tear or two, that emerged from the sheer beauty of her words and how much I trusted in what she was saying.

“I am not sure Emily knows how beautiful she is.
It’s a beauty that goes beyond her way with words”

She was specific, naming things about me that have impacted her. She spoke of things that she could see in me that I cannot seem to see in myself.

“It’s a beauty that is intangible.”

“You can’t see it, but you can feel it”

These words touched my soul, as I read on I felt like I was actually believing it, without it being an inflation of pride, it was a sense of worth. It was a sense that I was enough as I am, and that I am loved for the things that are unique to me.

“It’s this beauty, Em, which draws me to you.”

To think I could have something that would be of true value to someone, not a temporary skill or possession, but real life merit for being a human, was beyond what I would instinctually believe. I write often about loving yourself as part of your own personal journey, but this was something I could never have told myself.

This is what I learned from her wonderful, kind words:

1. Tell people you love them. and MEAN IT.

2. Don’t just tell them, show them however you know best. Show them with your time, by listening, by putting them first. Show them by being there, and by celebrating with them.

3. Most importantly, don’t just say you love them, but tell them WHY.

We all want to know that we have value.

We all want to know that we matter.

We all want to know that we are different and that we are important for who we are.

Sometimes this need gets cluttered in our tendency to seek approval in ways that are fleeting. I can get caught in the cycle of temporary pride with a “like” on Facebook, or a compliment on my clothing style. While those things are important, and a little encouragement can go a long way, we NEED to be aware of how specifically we love people. Those close to us need to know we love them BECAUSE. We need to be telling each other what it is that means so much to us. Why we value the friendship, why they impact us, why they are unique. This isn’t something superficial, it’s putting yourself in a vulnerable position and stating your need for the other person. Letting them know they have value, regardless of the circumstance. Not just delivering compliments upon success or performance, but sharing real encouragement wherever and whenever necessary.

People need to know that they are valued beyond their skills. We all need to believe that we have a purpose for being here.

I cannot ask you to do something I’m not willing to do myself, nor do I want to.

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So Greer,

You are someone who fills a room. Wherever you are you carry joy, and you have this unbelievable ability to love everyone you meet. You are powerful, in your words and in your thoughts. The things that you think are transcendent, and I find myself at a loss for words sometimes as I listen to you envision life as you see it.
You love vulnerability while most people fear it. I think that is one of the most important things that needs to change in this world, and you’re already working at it so honestly.
You are yourself. You say what is on your mind because there is no point in living a life in isolation. You don’t just live in community you CREATE it. That’s pretty incredible.
When I see you I think “freedom”, because you embody what it means to be wonderfully imperfect and own the crap out of it.

I love you. You are beautiful.

Here’s to being loved, and always knowing why.

Community.

ImageThis past weekend I had the chance to spend a couple days with a group of friends at a condo near a ski resort. It was a retreat of sorts, where I could relax and be myself, something that’s easy to not allow of one’s self. You could say it was an escape. An escape from school, obligations and busy-ness. Escape from our culture that says meals are better when speedy and convenient. We cooked together, ate together, and just played. The more I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but realize how much I am starving for community. For real, prolonged community that I might seek to nourish. Some seasons in my life see more community than others, and the ones where it is lacking convince me that I’m better off doing it on my own. But that is a lie. We can’t do it on our own. Convincing ourselves that we can is a vast overestimate of our own power. Not only can we not do it on our own, we shouldn’t have to. No one should have to. The strength that we have left over after life takes much out of us is what can be spread infinitely far when invested in community. Some are blessed to have community thrust at them, others have the ability to create it anywhere. No matter what, it requires sustaining, work and effort. But I was reminded this weekend of the sheer joy of it.

Community is what we need to stay afloat. It’s what we need when we’re at our wits end, and even before then.

Community is more than company, more than a roommate or partner. It’s more than a familiar face or a collection of conversations. Community goes beyond what we could ever experience on our own. It’s that moment when you let yourself be completely yourself, and others celebrate it. When you release who you are, the vulnerable, real side of you, without fear of rejection. When you authentically lend a part of your heart to another, trusting that it will return unharmed.

Community is rambunctious laughter for no reason, it’s the subtle understanding of another’s needs without any words being spoken. It’s the ability to confidently embrace your place in all of it and know that you are valued.

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Community is “I love you” not just said out loud, but felt. It’s the unique gifts of each person lending a hand to create life. Knowing that one person could never do it all and they don’t have to.

Community is compromise, because seeing another be joyful is more important than your idea of what you need.

Community is believing that you are allowed to be heard, and so are others. It’s taking the time to understand that someone may not understand, and being okay with not understanding at all.

Community is being absolutely ridiculous with no reserve. It’s the unique part of life that shapes who we are and who we’ve always been. It’s being okay with needing others, because they need you too.

We may not always feel blessed by community, and sometimes loneliness can seem like an inevitable part of existence. But if you were to know the importance of anything, I think it should be the desire for, and experience of, community. Real community.

What’s community meant to you? What do we do if we don’t have it?

TBH: 5 Reasons We Don’t Ask For Help

2012468692_4ddcbc9a53_zIt’s true. I said tbh…

Because to be honest, I don’t think we are. Today will be slightly an extension of last week’s post because I think this idea is crucial. Last week I talked about why we need to stop trying to be ‘okay’ all the time, today I want to talk about why we do that, why we don’t ask for help. As much as this might be cliché, I think it starts with a little bit of TBH.

So I’ll start.

I spent most of last year never asking for help. I thought that not asking for help was a sign of strength and willpower. I thought that I was the person other people came to for help, but I didn’t need to ask for it. I thought that being happy meant figuring out how to do life right. I liked the idea of approaching people once I had everything figured out, as if that would make it easier to be in community. I thought they wouldn’t want to hear it, or else they wouldn’t get it.

But why?

Here are 5 reasons why we don’t ask for help.

1. Pride

It can exist in more than one way. Often pride is perceived as being arrogant, cocky and overconfident. But I believe it also manifests itself in a way where we are too good to ask for help. We’re not ‘that’ person, we don’t need ‘their’ help. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a proud person, by never admitting that you need anyone in a way says just that: you don’t need anyone. If you are going to ask for help, you’ll need to knock yourself down a peg or two which is hard, I know. But what’s the point in being at the top of the ladder if there’s no else beside you to enjoy the view? When you ask for help you must acknowledge that you are no better than the person you are asking. Which is true, and completely okay.

2. Admitting Defeat

No it does not mean you are weak. However asking for help DOES require you to admit that you CAN’T do it on your own. This can feel like weakness, admitting that you can’t do it. When so many other people seem to be doing just fine, why do you have to be that person to ask for help? You must be weaker than the rest right? Nope.
Admitting defeat is a pivotal stepping stone to achieving victory. Ironic huh?
It’s nice to have the idea that we’re on a forward journey, and maybe you are an independent person who wants to get there alone. But something will always come up, and you will have to accept the fact that the obstacle is too large to beat alone. Maybe defeat to you is admitting that you have an eating disorder or addiction. Maybe it is admitting that you don’t know where you’re life is headed and that scares you. Maybe it is simply admitting that you thought you were strong enough to do things alone, but you don’t want to anymore. Maybe it is admitting that you are lonely. Whatever it is, once you admit it, the power that it holds over you is now conquerable. I firmly believe that once darkness is brought into the light, it’s a lot easier to beat. Fighting it alone is like not seeing the blindfold, defeat is when you let someone take it off. Even if that starts as writing in a journal, any kind of outlet is better than letting it sit in your head.

3. Accepting That Others Might Know More Than You

Okay get ready, here it is…

Other people can be smarter AND wiser than you.

mind = blown.

Alright so maybe it’s not, but for many of us it is hard to believe and accept the fact that other people have lived through more than you, have experienced life, and have something to offer you. Many times they may be older, but I don’t think that always has to be the case. This can stem from the pride issue, but it can seriously hinder our ability to let people in if we don’t let them be more knowledgeable. I think that is why many people may be hesitant to see a counselor, because you’re admitting that they know something you don’t, and they might be able to help. I think it’s safe to say the majority of us have experienced this with our parents. Yes they are probably right, yes they probably know a little more, does that make it easier to not be the one in control? Not usually.
Putting your life in someone else’s hands is a difficult thing to do but the reality is there ARE people who know things. And they probably know them because of experiences similar to yours. So give them a chance to give advice, they’ll be happy to do it. But on the other hand, also know that they won’t always be right, and that’s okay too.

4. Trusting That Anyone Actually Wants To Help

This is hard. How do we know that people really mean what they say? Well, you don’t. That’s where trust comes in. You might have been hurt in the past, you might have had your trust shattered, and I know that it takes a long time to build back up. But you must trust that there are people who WANT to help. In the same way that you need to let go of regrets (see No Regrets), you need to let go of the idea that people can’t be trusted. It’s true, some can’t. But don’t generalize the entirety of your relationships to the one that didn’t work. It’s so easy to never reach out to people and assume that they wouldn’t actually want to help, but you just won’t know until you ask. In reality, most peopel would be willing to help. In our head, that number drastically decreases. If trust is hard for you, let someone in just a little, and let that trust grow as the relationship does.

5. Expecting People To Know That You Need Help Before You Ask

I probably could have numbered this the opposite way around, or maybe we’ll just say 5 represents the MOST IMPORTANT. This is my biggest weakness, so I completely understand anyone who feels this way.

” They must be able to see me in pain”
” If they cared, they would say something”
” They know me well, how can they not see something is wrong?”
” I’m clearly not okay, but no one notices”

Stop giving people so much credit. If they don’t ask you if you need help, that doesn’t mean for second that they don’t WANT to help. We lead busy, hectic lives, and as much as I’d love to believe that we are completely aware of how those closest to us are doing, we don’t. At least not to the extent that most of us need. It is so easy to wait for someone to ask, as if that makes it more real. Help can only be offered, not requested right? That’s what I’ve thought, and it doesn’t achieve anything. Whether you ask for help, or help is offered to you, it is still help. It doesn’t matter if it’s organic, if someone noticed something was off with you or if you called for their help. Like I said here, it’s not fair to expect people to know you better than you know yourself. Give them the credit to help, but don’t give them the credit to just know.

I’ll say it again. It’s hard to ask for help. But it’s worth it. I hope that you have the courage to do that today.

And if you want my help, it is always offered. For real.

Be loved today:
What is the the reason you connected with the most out of the 5? Why?

Also, check out the poll/survey thing at the bottom!

Original Photo Attribution: Kandy Jaxx