It’s back to school season, and I find myself thinking of the important life lessons that schools never teach you, especially when it comes to the social/relationship aspect. It’s like they throw you into social situations where you could learn something, but does that mean you do? On the contrary, schools end up stunting the social growth of people because they experience situations that are bizarrely unique to the high school experience; you’re taught from that age to keep up appearances, not to let others see they’ve got to you, building up a fortress around you simply because people can be mean.
Think back to a moment of deep connection you’ve had with someone else, and you’d realize it’s a bit hard to conjure a memory. It’s sad that we live in an age where people’s devices are more connected than they are. And the road of increased connection starts with connecting to your own self, being true to who you are, and being self-aware. Of course, some people reading this might think, “Everybody is self-aware, what is she talking about?” However, you’d be surprised at how little people know about themselves, because they don’t give themselves that space to slow down and be quiet. Instead, they end up harnessing shallow relationships, conjuring needless drama, just because they’re in constant need to find someone – anyone – to give them attention or fill their emotional void.
Robbin Williams says it best, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”
And that’s true. Sometimes those people who make you feel the most alone are close friends and family members; especially when they walk around thinking the spotlight is always on them, so your voice doesn’t really matter, because you’re just a vague shadow in the darkness; especially when they build relationships built on if-then conditions, and ultimatums; especially when they always act selfishly with complete disregard to how what they do affects you. That’s why it’s always easier in such instances to just turn around and walk out of that theater, because they’re not going to miss you; you’re just going to be replaced by the next best thing.
Yet you don’t walk away. You’ve built this idea in your head that this person really needs you, that somehow your presence in the shadows really matters, that they can’t live without you, that your relationship is give and take.
Yes, it is give and take.
Where you give and they take.
Over and over and over again.
So it’s true; it’s very easy to be alone among people.You could be sitting with someone, talking and laughing for hours, and yet at the end of that conversation you realize you don’t really know much about the person. You don’t know what they think about at 3 a.m. at night, you don’t know how they eat their cereal, you don’t know the types of jokes they love best, you don’t know what they really think of you if they ever think of you…
Deep connection requires vulnerability. Vulnerability requires courage. Courage is a trait that many of us don’t have. We’d rather display a fake image of perfection than admit that something is wrong. Because that’s what we’ve learned in school.
And it is scary to connect with someone at such a deep level. You start walking in their shoes, and getting into their heads. That’s the basis of empathy, but that’s also the basis of manipulation; control is always easier from the inside out.
But to connect can also be beautiful, and fulfilling. And the beauty of it is, a point might reach when you’ll feel the most connected in a moment of complete silence, and while you might find it hard to believe, you’ll only know it if you’ve ever experienced it.
So today’s assignment is to go out to a place with beautiful scenery and connect with someone at a level deeper than you’re used to. It means meeting them in person; not on Facebook, or Skype or Whatsapp. Have conversations surrounding questions that make you uncomfortable. Don’t bring up the weather or the news. Most importantly, put your phone away, listen, and if you’re answering, give them your complete honest answers. Some questions for this exercise might be,
- What are your biggest fears?
- If you were to make a lasting impact in one area what would it be?
- What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
- What drives you?
- Who are the most important people in your life?
- Do you make decisions with your head or your heart?
- When was the last time you cried?
So did you try this? If yes, connect with me via twitter @ahechoes and use the #connect.
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