In the last year or so, I have had someone tell me more than once how lucky I am to have people who care about me. Who check in on me. It grates me when they say that. It is an assumption that somehow, all these people – friends and family – care about me because of something in the stars. Something out of my control.
Because it is not just luck.
Yes, I admit, when people cross your path, there is a bit of luck involved. But when they stay, it has to do with you. With what you do. With how you keep them. I am definitely lucky to have wonderful people in my life. But it isn’t without hard work. I make an effort right from the start.
When someone comes into my life and I click with them, I make the effort to connect with them. That means being open and vulnerable while still having boundaries. It means being compassionate. It means giving them my time. It means listening. It means opening up about my flaws, my imperfections. It means being authentic. It means asking for help when I need it.
This takes trust and sometimes, it can backfire. But then, it’s about trusting again. And again. And again. There is effort involved in keeping in contact with people across different continents, different cities and even within the same state. Sometimes communication might be limited to texts but it is still important. At other times, there is more face-to-face communication.
Part of the effort of strengthening connections has involved getting out of my comfort zone. When I moved up to the Central Coast two years ago, I knew no one. But I met people through work at first and then also set up a book club through meetup. I met some wonderful people and have since continued to make sure I do all of the above. I also make the effort to organise catch-ups and message those I don’t see at work at regular intervals. Similarly, with friends in Sydney, I’ll let them know when I’m down there or alternatively, attempt to catch up when I can. I make more of an effort to communicate in our group chats. I will invite them over.
Is it easy? Not all the time. Especially given busy lifestyles and my own occasionally fragile mental health.
Is it worth it? Totally!
Being human though, I still experience bouts of loneliness. A sense of disconnection. But I think that’s part of my own existential dilemmas. This week is National Psychology Week and the theme for 2018 is Power of Human Connection. There is no doubt loneliness is an epidemic. I have several thoughts on the subject and it’s something I have experienced and am reading and researching a fair bit. There are several thoughts on the subject swimming in my head for the past couple of months but I haven’t yet been able to pen them down in a coherent manner. But I do think this. Loneliness will never completely go away. And yet, we all need to make an effort to connect.
We cannot just expect people to reach out to us if we don’t reach out to them. We cannot expect people to remain friends if we are not going to be good friends. We cannot expect people to connect if we are not open with them. We cannot expect deeper connections if we are not willing to be our flawed and imperfect selves.
It’s not just luck that has got me friends who will look out for me or who check in on me when my mental health isn’t great. It’s also me being courageous to be vulnerable, being authentic and putting in a lot of effort in these relationships.
***Linking with Kylie for IBOT***
Featured image: Pexels
Until next time,