"Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us - and those around us - more effectively. Look for the learning."
Louisa May Alcott
We are all the main characters of our own life stories. What happens when we're not quite the protagonist and instead overrun by the supporting cast, the "Big Bad" villains, or the pervasive locale as its own character? We must be central to our own narratives AND we have to get out of own stories to realize that every single person has a story just as complex, full, and nuanced as ours. That's a bit difficult to wrap our heads around. If we are the center of our solar system with overlapping components from other celestial bodies then everyone else is also positioned as the center to their own galaxy and universes. How do we depart from our home star base to visit those of others around us? What does it take for us to get out of our own heads and to send out a search party or a welcome brigade to others?
People keep saying that they were just thinking of someone else, meant to reach out, or intended to check-in. Intent doesn't matter. The impact is that people didn't show up. Nobody knows we're thinking of them, that we care about them, that we miss them, etc. if we don't communicate that to them in some way - by words or actions. We have to send out a probe. We have to make contact. We have to send that message. We have to call them. We have to drop that letter in the mail. Whatever. We just have to do it. What is stopping us? What is holding us back? Why are we hesitating? What are we afraid of? Are we worried people won't want to hear from us, or that it's been too long, or that we're not needed? Worst case scenario, someone tells us those things and we know for sure - speculating is self-sabotage. More often than not people are willing to embrace us with grace, and compassion especially if we're making contact in genuine ways. Get explicit. Be vulnerable. Be direct. You've been on my heart because ... I love you because ... I care about you and ...
I am realizing more and more just how many people are living isolated lives. There's this pervasive loneliness that plagues us that has been exacerbated the global pandemic that has mandated even more distance. People need people. People need connection. People need companionship. We are communal. We need to be intentional in building community. How are we bringing people in? How are communicating to people why they matter to us? How are sharing our lives with us to let them know they too are part of our lives? We have so much power with others. We can make them feel warm, loved, cared for. We can make them feel seen, valued, and heard. We can empower, uplift, and support. We. Us. We can be present. We can show up. We can do the work for/with them.
We have to put in the effort. Effortful conversations are worthwhile. When we're challenged, pushed, knudged into a bit of discomfort or unfamiliarity where we have to pause, think, and put it all together, that's meaningful. When we're actively thinking about our conversation instead of sharing canned answers, distracted engagement, and disingenuousness that's where transformation moments happen, bonds are strengthened, and community is built. Effortless conversation is important too where we have full candor, can be brave, and share without fear. We need both. People want both. It's possible for both. Are we in relationships where those conversations are happening? Are we prepared to have substantive conversation? How are we guiding conversations to places of discovery, introspection, and care?
Vulnerability has to cost us something - namely our stories and experiences. We cannot. We. Cannot. We cannot expect to be in relationship with others while avoiding the work of giving. We have to give part of ourselves to others in hopes that they honor it for what it is. We get to take part of them in return. Ideal conversations are gives and takes. It's paragraphs with a responsive paragraph, and then switching roles. It's courageous moments that are affirmed. It's truth that is respected. It's trust that is continually earned.
We can initiate vulnerable conversation in so many way but truly just naming it as such is enough. "I'm going to be honest. I'll be candid. I'm going to be vulnerable for a moment."
We can ask people if they trust us, if we have built the necessary relationship foundation, etc. We can ask people to go deeper, to say more about that, to share more, to continue, to take their time but that we're here with them.
We can say their names. We can tell them how their stories have made us feel. We can share how we value, appreciate, and give thanks for others. Anything we can do to encourage conversation that is real, grounded in connection, and emotive is usually worthwhile. We need it. We are longing for it. We gain so much from it. It's why our relationships vary with others. It's why feel perpetually to connected to long distance friends or friends we haven't talked to in a while. It's a continuation of a lifelong conversation. It's certainty in a bond.
This is all to say that I see the ways we have been taught to be quiet, to be distanced, and to be unfeeling when truly life is brighter, fuller, and warmer when we do the opposite. We have to break rank. We have to get active for the things and people we're passionate about. We have to practice saying things until our voice becomes less timid. We have to practice until it's easier to speak up. We have to practice until we don't hesitate to challenge, to push back, and to question. Why are things this way? Do they have to be this way? Are there other ways of being? When we are free of fear of making mistakes, of saying the wrong thing, of facing repercussions we speak powerful truths. We become fully realized. We experience the world differently. We cultivate a sense of empathy. We have deeper relationships. We can be a beacon for others.
We can liberate. We can amplify voices. We can uplift. We can make change. We can do the revolutionary work of justice. Right now, as it is has long been, so many are sitting idle, silent, or too quiet. Don't we want to be free? Don't we want to be our brightest self? Don't we want to be a benevolent force for community? We are catalysts. We are the spark. We are the shockwave that rumbles throughout. We are the map howing others the way. We are become masterful in our self-actualization. We have to say something. We have to share something. We have to be something - different, louder, and more unapologetic. We have to be us, unleashed. Unleashed for love. Unleashed for justice. Unleashed for justice. X