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Friday, May 17, 2013

Party for Two

Think back to your first few days of school in kindergarten, and try to remember your first initial fears. "What are we going to do next? Where should I sit on the reading carpet? Why does my teacher's hair look like a clown wig?" I can distinctly remember feeling exceedingly overwhelmed with all of these new changes, and so many new faces to experience these changes with. All of the little girls looked the same to me; we all wore tasteful department store dresses, had barrettes in our hair, and wore saddle shoes. While we all looked similar, I began to understand the ins-and-outs of being social at age five. And let me tell you, it was not a fun ride for this little girl.

I'm not entirely sure why, but as a child, I was exceedingly and painfully shy. Well, that's not entirely true; I know why I was the way that I was. We all have a memory of what it feels like to be rejected, so fasten your seat belts because here is MY first experience of rejection: It was probably the second week of kindergarten, and I had gotten to know who most of my classmates were. Two stick out in my mind, and are pertinent to the story. There was Katie, who I especially enjoyed being around and loved coloring with. And there was Kellie, who I wanted to shove into the nearest black hole. Anyhow, one day we were all getting ready to go out for recess. We had the option of staying inside and playing with the toy kitchen, the puppets, and other indoor toys, or going outside to run and play. At the time, I must've been a conformist, because my mindset was, "Whatever Katie wants to do, I will do". So I approached Katie as we were released to go play, but I saw that she had gone over to the rest of the girls - where Kellie was standing. In one or two weeks, this little monster had become the head honcho - everyone was listening to her commands, demands, and expectations. She looked around the circle of girls, judging each of us-- who would she play with that day? "We will all play together", Kellie announced. "Well, you, and you, and you, and you-- but NOT her." Who was "her"? You're looking at her. Apparently, I was not cool enough to play with the indoor girls. I wanted to cry, but was too proud. I hoped that Katie would join me as I began to drag my feet outside, but she did not. Don't worry, though - I had an EXCELLENT time outside that afternoon. I played with the boys, who all ended up liking me better all throughout elementary school anyways. Everyone else ended up hating Kellie by grade 3. It happens. 

Why the story? Simple: I just wanted to show you how far back social problems can extend in our pasts. It's uncanny; shouldn't a few five-year-old's be able to play nicely together without making one another feel inferior? Apparently not. So you might be asking, "What does that have to do with me?" I'm glad you asked. Whether you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s - we all have one thing in common: we NEED to have a social body that we can turn to. Not just in times of trial, but in times of happiness. Especially for women, we generally have the strong need to feel affirmed by others, as well as supported. We owe it to ourselves to have at least five or six gals that we can call or text whenever we want to. Hopefully, each of you have those five or six people coming to mind and are thinking of them as you read this paragraph. But I am a realist, and I do know that there are those of you that do not. And whether you think so or not, you do deserve to be loved well by friends, and you were made to be in relationship with others - life is not about being alone, but walking through things together.

Maybe today you feel the way that I felt that day in kindergarten when Kellie made me feel about two inches tall - perhaps you have been screwed over by others, and have a hard time trusting these so-called "friends" that you've had. Well let me encourage you by saying this much-- there are, in fact, decent ladies out there who have a huge capacity to love you well. You do not need to feel alone, and you never should. The best way that I can think of to get rid of the loneliness blues is to do one simple thing-- get together with others. If you have an acquaintance at the office that you'd like to get to know, ask her to go out to lunch. That lady that has the adorable puppy at the end of the block, ask her if she'd like to go for a walk together sometime. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, because you have a lot to offer. We all do; we are all coming from different places in life, and have life to pour into others. Our experiences didn't happen for nothing; we go through things so that we can get through them, and help others when they are going through something similar. We have to learn to be there for one another.

Obviously, we all have different social preferences. Some people enjoy and thrive in large groups-- parties are their scene, and a one-on-one coffee date with someone they barely know makes them want to hurl. There are others who are the polar opposite, one-on-one gives them a glimmer of hope, where the party scene gives them a glimmer of nausea. Me? I see the importance of both, and the importance to be able to embrace both types of situations. I think the best feeling I can have in a day is walking away from a situation, knowing that I made a deep connection with another individual. If there are several individuals, even better! But the only way that can ever happen for any of us is if we put ourselves out there, and learn to love each other well.

The bottom line? You are human, and humans need each other. In this day and age, it's so easy to get caught up in social media and ignore the importance of real time together. Unfortunately, I don't think Facebook chats and text messages really do our hearts much justice in comparison to the sweetness of being face to face with someone who cares about us. So step up to the plate, put yourself out there, and start making some great connections with others. Even if you have a Kellie experience, which we all will, don't be afraid to get back up on the horse and try again. There will always be people that some of us just don't connect with, and that is completely okay. I can think of three people off of the top of my head right now, thinking to myself, "There really wouldn't be much of a friendship there" or "We were friends, but that season has come to a close." The main goal is to be peaceful with everyone, but connect with those who you feel the closest to.

My challenge to you this week: look through your phone contacts or Facebook friends, and find one person who you would like to get to know better. If she is someone that you've met at social gatherings but don't really know too much else about her and would like to, send her a text and ask her if she'd like to get coffee this week. I personally don't know of anyone in my life that has ever told me "No thanks" to that proposal, but I'm sure there will come a day. But let's put it this way: it's VERY unlikely. We were all made with the desire to be connected to others, so you would be doing both yourself and the other person a lot of justice by stepping up to the plate and initiating a connection. Building strong one-on-one friendships is what it's all about, so don't be shy about it! And if it is rejection you fear, take a deep breath and talk yourself through it. You can do it. Just remember that you have a lot to offer, and are a rich gift to many!

On that note, get to scrolling through your "friends" and make someone a real friend! You will do your mind a world of good to be in community with others, and that feeling of goodness will carry into all other walks of your life. Think of the possibilities: someone to go for walks with, someone to do Pilates or yoga with, someone to share recipes with, someone to cry with, someone to laugh with, someone to talk with, and someone to encourage and be encouraged by. It's a win-win situation, ladies! Go out there and love on others, and be ready to be loved on! Love your mind, your heart, and your soul will each thank you for it.

Melissa Mancini, pre-counseling student

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