Missed Connections

The 20s are all about building your network. There worst thing that can happen to you in life is to be disconnected from those that matter to you most. There's absolutely nothing more isolating then to lose a connection. That's what we do as people. We connect, interact, dialogue, touch, feel and commingle. It's that necessity of knowing that you're not alone. Solace, solitude, and silence are our downfall. Preservation of ourselves and others is sustained through our relationships. This is missed connections. 
There was MadTV skit that had the best characters describe themselves on a dating game show (you know things people did before swiping right on tinder) called "Lowered Expectations." Obviously the characters were all colossal messes of the most epic proportions and their finicky descriptions were totally hilarious. My favorite one was Deborah Johnson playing her iconic bipolar aggressive-aggressive "race-card pulling" (as if that's an actual thing) alter ego Bunifah Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson. Of course no one wanted to go a date with her because she was completely irrational all the time. Along those same lines the episodes of the way too funny and cancelled too fast TBS comedies Ground Floor & Men at Work had episodes where characters obsessed over missed connections. That's where people post where they saw potential love-interests in the paper and hope to run into them again there. It's like getting a second chance to vibe with someone. It brings up the questions of how do you know you should be connected to someone and particularly how long or for a lifetime? Missed connections can be overlooked opportunities or dodged bullets just the same.
This year has made me so much more aware about the importance of keeping up connections. There are some that you never have to worry about and that remain strong regardless of how much or little you communicate whereas others take serious consistent cultivation. I've also come to understand that not every severed connection is a loss.  Honestly, there are some people that are either ambivalent and don't really take way or add anything substantial to your life as well as those who are nothing more than detrimental to you - both are worth disbanding. I see how much effort it takes to keep up with some people and I quickly realized that some people were not worth it. The time, energy, and toil just did not equate to their contributions to my life. In freeing myself from them or even letting the connection naturally dissipate I found I had more time for the people that both valued me and that I was fully invested in.
Intentionality becomes so apparent  when you have the looming deadline of graduation hovering about you. With my limited time left in my college experience I am going out of my way to see, talk, hug, and remain friends with certain people. People have also reciprocated and bent over backwards to make time to see me and for that I am grateful. These are the people that I have thoroughly enjoyed being connected to. They have challenged me to consider different perspectives, supported me through the toughest times, and brought me immeasurable happiness. In preparing to depart from my institution of higher education I want to take them with me to have them be present in the next part of my life and in some cases for so long as we live. What a gift it is to be know and want to be connected to people. I hope that I am someone that people want to hold on to for a lifetime.
One of the big ways I show how much I appreciate some of the people I am connected to are my patented personalized birthday gifts. I take pride in finding gifts that highlight the best qualities in others and letting them know explicitly how I feel about them and their friendship. It's something I know definitively let's people know that I'm in it for the long haul. This week saw me putting together and delivering gifts for my good friend Jaime along with a couple of the kids in Cam and Max, along with my buddy Jake. Seeing people get emotional, express their gratitude, or demonstrate their excitement reminds me why connecting is so important. Other than that I check in and I don't mean superficial well-being questions but make a point to know what people are up to/dealing with and asking them more relevant and sincere questions. If you want someone to know you care about them, don't just keep that in your heart - share it with them, tell them, or do something with them. Connection continues to mean affirming as often as possible why your relations matter.
This week I've caught up in person and via text with some of the people that I have come to care about most. My goofy laughing buddy Nic, politically driven and ever-ambitious suitemate Joel, and biology classmate Kyle.  It's been so damn good to hear from them and to know that we still care about one another. Beyond that hearing from my favorite bunch of rag-tag misfits in Willy, Aaron, Kyle, David, Elliot, Shawn and Henry from the various aspects of my college life. Even the random message out of the blue has significance for me. It means someone is thinking about you and that means a lot.
After a relatively easy week (still suffering from extreme sleep deprivation from last weekends' endeavors) I finished up with a dating as a student leader workshop which was informative. Changed some of my attitudes about putting myself out there and being open to make romantic connections. Most helpful thing was talking about networking in my "Design Your Life" class and an informational interview with a former journalist who joined a nonprofit. It definitely made me realize that I still do very much have a passion for journalism and somehow much end up in the field. Lastly went to a info session on networking so I'll share those tips below. Stay connected (check my social media links at the top) and don't forget those missed connections.
Networking tips:
  • Nothing beats having an in person one-on-one conversation
  • Have a clear, concise story of who you are and what you're interested in
  • Do info interviews - come prepared with questions about a person's career path, most fulfilling moments, qualms etc. (do not ask for a job/internship)
  • Use linkedin and join professional organizations in your local area
  • Present the best version of you - be yourself but the polished, put-together, and potent iteration of who you are
  • Follow up with all those that you meet; send a message or email and stay in touch periodically (give them updates about your life)
  • Be gracious - thank those that help you and even those that don't when they give some of their time to you

My blog post question for the day is ... what is your dream job? Ambassador to the UN for the United States; Samantha Power watch out, I'm coming for your occupation


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