The 20s are all about letting people in. We live in a day in age where people are more interested in the filtered (both literally and figuratively) lives of those we are barely connected to. Scrolling through images, statuses, tweets, vines and all the rest occupies our time more than the flesh and blood potential interactions we have right in front of us on a daily basis. I don’t blame people though for clinging so hard onto their phones. People can be tricky to say the least. But when we don’t give people a chance, we miss out on the opportunity to know them and them us. Sometimes you just have to let yourself start catching feelings.
As I’ve gone through college I’ve taken note of my social circle getting smaller and smaller. I look at my parents and see how few close friends they have and I guess it’s a natural occurrence, but I’ve wondered why. As kids I remember saying that anyone and everyone was my friend. I was a quiet child but still upbeat nonetheless especially about meeting other people. I guess as time went on my experiences with people started being less than positive and I gave up on getting to know people. I decided in my heart that it was too much effort, that it was too hard, or that some people weren’t worth it. I didn’t let people in so when they eventually messed up they weren’t close enough to me do to actually do any harm. I put up this barrier, a blockage, a blockade of sorts. It was an impregnable wall, a fortress of solitude (I see you Big Blue), a quantum of solace (and there’s 007 making an appearance) that prevented people from getting too close. What I didn’t realize what that I was also missing out on getting to know people and opportunities for people to prove my dispositions and assumptions of them wrong. I’ve come to understand, especially this summer, that people are worth pursuing. People are worth fighting for. People will always surprise you, and sometimes it for the better. You should never give up on humanity because somewhere you’ll meet someone who will give you a reason not to.
There is so much to be learned from other people and when you realize that every single unique individual you come into contact with knows something you don’t know, that’s more than enough reason to give them a chance. I could talk about not even feeling like you yourself are worth knowing but that self-deprecating notion has no merit for anyone. There is so much to be learned from children and it’s beyond true that kids say the darndest things (but that 90’s TV though; when Bill Cosby was king). Their openness and celebration of difference and one another is awe-inspiring. Their ability to trust one another (because they haven’t been discouraged by the hardships of life) is admirable. I wish as credulous as kids. I get that as you get older who you surround yourself with shrinks considerably, hence me having just about three friends I keep in contact with regularly from high school (suburban southwest Ohio, I miss you but don’t at the same time), but at the same time I reminisce about the effervescent feelings you get when you connect with someone and are able to incorporate them into your life. I forgot how awesome making friends with strangers was. You can’t make contacts unless you’re willing to share some of yourself. You can figure everybody else out but if you never let anyone in, then you’ll always be alone. You have to give just as much as you get. Be vulnerable, trust again, laugh bigger, live louder and enjoy life especially with its surprises in the people it brings into your life. Catch those feelings, it’s not a bad thing.
This summer has been one of self-realization. I’m so different than who I used to be and, for the most part, I like who I am now. I don’t think I can ever convey how significant some people end up people in my life when I least expect it. I have recently been checking myself on assigning such monumental importance to minor things and so my scheme of what’s big time versus paltry is super skewed. Interacting the students of the summer bridge program I’ve been peer advising was a powerful reminder in the right direction of relevancy. Wednesday for me was spent talking about fraternity things before starting the prep for my peer advisor group dinner. My apartment was already clean but overachieving is the entirety of my existence so I laid out a massive spread before the students in my group arrived. Gabby, Valeria, Tessie, Warrick, and Cam came on over and made themselves at home. It was like the sitcom neighbor who doesn't understand boundaries (Bud on Cosby Show, Urkel on Family Matters, Jazz on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) but what's a little home invasion between friends? Everybody contributed to the bounty that was the dinner and it was good just to have them there, for me to be entertaining (stay at home dad wishes coming true), and to have a good time. After dinner finished they all crash in a group spoonfest on my bed as Gabby and I did dishes for days. Eventually nap (food coma) time came to an end and we ended our time together with a random dance party reminiscent of iCarly. I let the students in and let myself be goofy with them and they were able to see a side of me that rarely comes out. Sometimes it's okay to catch feelings, people are deserving of it.
You know that everything comes to an end and many times the end can either be great and teary-eyed, a completely disastrous mess, or kind of an apathetic fizzle. The end of SESP was a random mix of it all I guess, because the way I felt was way different then what other people were visibly conveying, namely our students. Thursday night was our community meeting where we had a productive conversation about safe drinking practices and things to avoid with party culture. It was awesome to have an open and honest conversations about the dangers of binge drinking and some of the heinous things that can possibly go down at parties (I remember that iconic Degrassi episode where Emma is roofied and the horrors that followed for her soon after). We did a tapping circle of positive affirmations which had me tearing up and realizing just how much I actually did like most people. Afterwards it was off to the bowling alley where hilarity ensued especially with the likes of Bayla figue-skating kicking as she bowled each time, Darrick clowning the likes of everyone, and everyone but especially Tessie getting hype whenever our song requests were played. We were the only people of color at the establishment and it made me audibly laugh at how many stares we received as we entered and went about our business. We didn't care and just were having a pretty good time being with one another. Half the group called it quits early and the rest of us stayed bowling our hearts out (Grease 2 - truly underrated). We were all singing in the car and laughing our asses off as headed back to the residence hall. Friday was chaos, plain and simple. My morning consisted of running to Michael's with my other PAs, Jackie and Ying and making serious moves on getting gifts for Cat and Enmy. I picked up some scented candles that were on sale and spent my afternoon
writing typing warm and fuzzies for all the students. I went to lunch with the ever pleasant Bev (director of the ALANA student center) at a Nepalese cuisine restaurant and it was bomb. Talking with her always makes me feel heard, valued, and resonates with me deeply. Back up to campus we went and I ran to my apartment to grab dress clothes before making the trek to central campus to help decorate for the final banquet. The time came and even with the stellar job we as a staff did, there didn't seem to be much enthusiasm for the students which was truly disappointing. The energy just wasn't there and no matter how hard we tried to raise spirits, it wasn't working. We gave awards, played Minute to Win It games, and took group pictures before parting ways. I took some time to just hang out and be silent before making a McDonald's run and doing my final load of laundry. Half the students ended up storing stuff in my apartment (#storyofmylife) and the night ended with me passing out in bed fully clothed. I caught feelings and had to let them go.
If you like people, prove it and show them. People won't know it unless you tell or demonstrate it. Keeping it in your head does no one any good. Showing up makes a big difference. Catch feelings and then express them.
My blog post question for the day is … what stops you from making an effort to connect with other people? Other than laziness for me, I think past experiences with other people can make me apprehensive to trust others enough to give them the opportunity to even know me.