All I Ever Need

The 20s are all about connecting with people. As human beings we fundamentally yearn to be in community with one another. The only thing worse than death for us as a species is to be disconnected from another. This of the purpose of solitary confinement or even the Catholic church when excommunication was a thing. Being away from others does something so potently dastardly like nothing else on this Earth can. We strive to live for ourselves but in doing so we find ourselves living for other people. You want to know what life is all about ... I say, connections. It's all I ever need.

"You can't forgive without loving. And I don't mean sentimentality. I don't mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, 'I forgive. I'm finished with it." Maya Angelou - a true warrior with words may her legacy live on, her words reign true for generations to come and may she rest in peace. 

Remember when I said I was going to actually catch up what was happening in my life in real time to the interwebs again, well I lied. I always have a tough time deciding what I'll write because I've been accustomed to covering it all but in actuality that's not the way we as people work. I think our minds have a way of hanging on to the bad. The embarrassing incidents, the awkward moments, and every mistake no matter how big or small, are what usually stands out when we try to remember things. It's so funny because if we stopped to think about each day and the amount of time we spend with positive affects, at least for me, it's the majority of my days. There is so much good. There is so much to be thankful for. There are people that we are grateful to know. We are surrounded by amazing things and people and still many a times we choose to focus on the bad in our lives. Now don't get me wrong, there is significance in the things that we experiences regardless of how we classify them but it seems like in this day and age, we're often so focused on the imperfections, flaws, and faults of daily lives that we overlook the goodness surrounding us. In our darkest days, in our worst of times, in our most pivotal moments, the thing we forget is that there is hope. There is light. There is GOOD. There is connection. The good times are so abundant we don't even notice them. Remember when you need it most, when you're struggling the hardest, and when you're more than ready to give up on a connection that there is good, that you've had good times, and that people matter. That's all you ever need.  

You know what our biggest fear as human beings is ... fear of loss of connection. The reason why we find it so hard to accept responsibility for our actions, apologize, move on, confront and all the potentially negative interactions in between, is because no one wants to sever a connection. The truth in actuality is that when we don't clear the air or address issues honestly, we leave a burden on our hearts and those connections are strained or broken anyway. The hardest things I've ever had to learn were how to love (myself and others) and how to forgive. I'm not saying I'm perfect at either but I've definitely come a long way over the past few years and I find myself moving to both easier and more often. It feels good to feel good. When I tell my family members I love them unconditional, I mean it from the very depths of my soul and with every fiber of my being. When I tell my friends I love the hell out of out them, no matter how much they frustrate me to no end, it comes from the bottom of my heart. When I find the strength, maturity and courage to forgive, it comes from the deepest corridors of my spirit. I speak the truth to world, I breathe in, and move on. I lift that heaviness from my life and let the good back in. I strengthen that connection. I find peace. It's all I ever need.

This past week has been one of the emotionally exhausting I've ever endured. From absolutely euphoric highs to some of the most heartbreakingly  straining lows. Orientation leader training has been underway and to say it's been a rollercoaster with hairpin loops and neck-breaking turns would be an understatement (a clich├ęd one but still one nonetheless). From our journey to camp where stories were shared, fun was had, and connections formed to our return to campus where all hell broke loose, lines were drawn, and connections were destroyed, it has been truly unreal. There's no real sense of time and the days all are all distinctly unique but blend together at the same time. I've laughed so hard I cried and nearly peed my pants, and also cried so hard that I wondered if my heart could bear it. Each day started with communal breakfasts, and varied with presentations from campus offices, academic units, and orientation scenarios galore. Everyday has presented it's challenges and asked each of us to tackle them to the best of our ability. Some days the world seemed to ask too much of me and I remembered all I ever need - connection. That's what it boils down to for me. We connect. We build up, we try not to tear down, and if we do we fix it so we can come back with a better connection than before. Over the course of the week with moving around campus for various meetings, teambuilders, one on one conversations, and even bulletin board making (RAs, I will never understand how you do it; hat's off), I found myself forming connections with the 48 people on our staff. I recognize how different each bond is, some definitely weaker, more superficial or passive as opposed to others where the tether is solid (at least that's how I perceive it to be) but still there. It's so interesting after washing dishes, eating a meal, or staying up late to wield staple guns how far conversation can take us. Conversation is the convoy by which we construct bridges to other people. I've learned this week to trust that conversation will take us where we need to go, especially if we go into them authentically and with a true willingness to allow them. No matter what happens I know that all I ever need is my connection with others to guide our interactions.

Orientation leading has been nothing like I thought it would be and that's both for better and for worse. I never would have seen myself smiling as much and as often as I do. I wouldn't have ever contemplated opening myself up for some of my personal insecurities, experiences, and opinions to strangers. There was no way I could have imagined things to happen the way they did either. On the flipside, the tough conversations that were had and the feelings that they stirred up went deeper than I would had planned for. The sequence of events especially those that threatened to demolish the connections formed between people never could have been anticipated. The realness that was almost too overwhelming couldn't have foreseen. In writing this post I contemplated doing the usual explaining everything that has happened but in this moment I see no purpose in going into the details because I realize the permeating theme is those connections and refreshing that they are all I ever need. Whenever two people interact they have the potential to build one another up or tear each other down and that's a daily choice that happens multiple times per day. The ugly beautiful truth of it all is that we NEED people for those connections but also because that's how we orient ourselves in the world. We know we are like this person and different from this person and that's how we create boundaries and worldmake (the religion major in me is coming out so damn hard right now). We create our worlds and one thing we should be careful to remember is that our world is nothing without connections.

Now I'll highlight some of the most memorable moments of this week so far in no particular order (in other words I can't remember the chronology of it all): Kelsey checking on me after I was impacted by the death of activist/poet Maya Angelou, being perpetually stupid with Benjy (orientation bromance or nah), hanging out with baby Melody, the scandalous sex/attraction staff lounge conversation, hearing David speak truth to life in regards to the effects of racism, dancing to Ariana Grande's "Problem" as an orientation staff, the food, and lastly being able to forgive but restore. Can I just say living in Harris-Millis residence hall complex has been interesting. It's hot as hell, like fifth circle in Dante's Inferno hot and many a t-shirt has been sweated out (outfit changes per day warranted ... right?). You know my week wouldn't be complete without a visit from his coarseness himself the General aka Mac. Froyo, speed eating, and bulletin board assistance was the docket for that night. A little strife and some slightly unsatisfying reconciliation (what are friendships other than constant works in progress) but still a connection for the ages. In reflecting over that little roadbump I'm proud of myself for first of all addressing it as it happened, not giving up or letting it go like I used to, moving on fully, and ending with the reiteration that I love the shit out of that guy. The most gratifying thing (whether it was a side effect of shame/guilt or not) was him using our "I love you" hand-head thing without me initiating it, I'll take it. I promised that we would friends and connected as long I lived and that is a promise I intend to keep. All I ever need is for the people I'm connected to know how much they matter to me and for them to express, or acknowledge the same is true for them in the way that would speak most to me.

My blog post question for the day is ... what do you need most from other people? I think for me authenticity is the end all be all. If you can keep it real with me, that's more than enough. Nothing less and nothing more, just you for who you are.


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