Truth - The human experience is centered around community. We are not meant to be alone. In fact, community is critical to our survival as individuals, both in practicality and psychologically. In extreme circumstances, prolonged isolation from others results in the deterioration of the psyche, cognitive functions, and grasp on reality. We figuratively, and quite literally need people. The sustained relationships we form are essential to our existence and persistence throughout the entirety of our lives. And so let us commune.
"What it meant to me: a happy life, of course, companionship, of course.
A common objective,  I think." Denis Thatcher

Behavioral styles speak to our most common ways of being. They predict how we act, interact, and communicate. For me, my introverted nature can be a challenge to overcome, particularly when it comes to forging and maintaining relationships. I am someone who loves to be invited to things but takes even more pleasure in outings being cancelled. Spending hours, if not a couple days, confined to the comfort of my own company can be an terra prime purgatory for some but for me it's my ideal weekend. There's this odd imaginary threshold where I have no intention of going anywhere or doing anything with other people until I am dressed, and have departed my home. Once I step foot outside, it's on and I'm committed but before that it's akin to Schrodinger's cat whether or not I'm alive and will be making an appearance in public. The irony is for all the pessimistic melancholy I imagine in my head I am almost never met with a disappointing time. I often leave social situations internally questioning why I don't hang out with people more consistently. I am still figuring out the disconnect between how I feel, and how I act. Maybe it's my commitment issues and an incessant need to always have an "out." Maybe I value my personal time too much. Maybe I don't fully understand the importance of my presence with others. Whatever it is, it's worth deconstructing.
For someone who recharges by being alone I somehow end up being an initiator. While others would describe me as charismatic, passionate, loyal, and decisive, I would say I am empathetic, reserved, understated, and intentional. The former and latter qualities are not necessarily the antithesis of one another but to me they seem awkwardly juxtaposed when attributed to me. I am the person to plan the event, hash out the logistics, invite people, and facilitate any necessary introductions. I don't know why I find myself able to navigate conversations with ease. Even positionally, I gravitate towards the center and can be literally surrounded by people and I thrive. In lay people's terms, I bring the party. At the same time, I prefer more intimate conversation with up to three other people where we share experiences, perspectives, and knowledge. If I don't know very many people I have to work up the courage to engage them complete with self-narrated pep talks and inner evil Kermit contradictions. I can spend hours just watching people, making up their life stories in my head, and observing their interactions from afar. Controlled gathering with familiar acquaintances will always be more affirming for me than any venue with total strangers. That's just how I commune.

There needs to be a guide to making friends after college because it seems all the rules change, and yet they really don't. That commonality that we think is lost really has been engrained in us because  we've been prepared our whole lives to be able to do it in other ways. Back in the day it was having the same light up shoes, cerulean blue crayon, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. Now it's memes, pop culture references, and Netflix suggestions. It's our co-workers and colleagues, the community groups we partake in, and the random people we bump into and have anything in common with. You never know where you're going to make friends with someone. All it takes is the gumption to strike up a conversation. Farmer's market, dodgeball league, volunteer opportunity, book signing, and all the mundane places we find ourselves in - all have the potential to be where we make a connection that we cultivate into a meaningful relationship. If I see someone out and about and like what they're wearing, am interested in what they're reading, see a sticker or button that I want to know more about, or I just want their opinion on what to order, I just say it out loud to them. Sometimes it really is that easy. We're in the same location for a reason so at least we have that in common. TV, movies, music, literature, heck even sports - those common conversation staples are my go to's. Hell even politics are a good place to start when all I need to hear is a grown, see some rolling eyes, or "this is real life" laugh to know we're on the same page. Did we just become friends, hell yeah we just did.
As I've transitioned to adulthood I've had to be even more intentional about making my friendships a priority, and orating that people matter to me. It's putting my time where my care is. If I want to be friends with people then that means taking responsibility for starting conversation, responding in a timely manner, and remembering the little things that matter. It's not always being passive and waiting to be invited but creating and/or hosting some of the get-togethers. It's about making time for people. I am major proponent of scheduled FaceTime chats or phone calls. Nothing beats hearing someone's voice or seeing them as you talk to them. Those conversations always turn in to hours upon hours of catching up. Those are what sustain me. What's so scary about calling your friends? I do random care packages, and hand-written postcards because who does not love getting mail that isn't Amazon Prime shipments you ordered for yourself. When I'm with other people, that's all I'm doing. I am present. I am engaged. I am there, and nowhere else. My phone is not in my hands, and it's not on the table. It's tucked away and preferably silenced. I'm there to enjoy the company of my friends and that's it. There's something special about just sitting with others and being. That communal experience of relishing in the companionship of others is such a distinctively human experience. Sometimes I look around and I mutter a wow because I am in awe that I get to be in relationship to such amazing people. Those meta moments of gratitude are one of a kind. X


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