I’m currently in a very difficult position. I’m questioning whether to talk about it, but I feel like it could help others and perhaps the loved one I’m about to mention reads this post. Here goes nothing.
A loved one of mine is in a difficult spot. But I don’t think he actually realizes it, as the problem he faces is one that has developed over his entire life. And that problem is the important life skill of developing meaningful, deep relationships with others.
This is someone I always looked up to and was even angry and jealous at for his ability to small talk with anybody, being very likable and having opportunities simply handed to him. He has had the same one best friend since kindergarten, always there for each other, and I longed for something like that. I felt for a long time like I wasn’t worthy or able to form a friendship like that. I had tried for years to find that one ideal best friend, but they always seemed to move away and forget about me. I felt inadequate and very alone.
But now I feel like the tables may be turning. I’ve gone through my fair share of hardships, but I’ve come to a really great point where I have made connections with many different people. It’s not like I talk to every single one of these people everyday, but I can easily just send a quick message and catch up with them. Even when I’m in a lower mood and have thoughts of being “forever alone,” I realize how incredibly grateful I am for being surrounded by amazing people.
My loved one, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same support system. He knows a lot of different people and definitely surpasses me on number of Facebook friends, but the value of those relationships don’t add up as much. The one best friend he has had for his entire life is now a farther distance away for the first time ever. What was once a crutch to rely on is now far away, and it’s up to him to take this new opportunity in a new place to find more connections.
One main issue is the fear of getting hurt. When it comes to any relationship, this is inevitable. It’s actually important to go through the emotional process so you at least know what to expect. And even though yes, when you put yourself out there and step outside your comfort zone, you’ll get hurt. You’ll fall down a few times, and it won’t be fun. But when you find someone you click with, who makes you feel great, the hurt is worth it.
Sure, being alone all the time is easy for some of us. I can attest to that. I need alone time to feel sane. I could easily go to movies or fancy restaurants by myself just because. The ability to be comfortable in solitude is so important and usually underrated. It’s not good to be afraid of being alone either. But these skills and qualities are separate from the skills of being opening, welcoming and friendly. Even as someone as independent as myself, I know life is meant to be shared with others. I love living alone, but I also want to get married one day and share my life with someone else. It’s all about balance.
Relationships and social interaction are crucial components for overall wellness. Just as important as physical and mental health, sometimes the best medicine can simply be dropping everything to see somebody else and spill your guts. Research shows time and time again that socializing is beneficial to health, helping us live longer. It gives you confidence and provides support during difficult times. In work and school, you can concentrate better. You can also problem-solve and compromise better.
It’s all about learning to listen to your intuition and personal needs Some people need and want to socialize more than others, and that’s completely okay. But if you don’t have that foundation of meaningful people in your life, it’s virtually impossible to achieve optimal wellness. You can’t just rely on work or school to fill that void either. You’ll end up coming home every night with nothing to fall back on.
It’s very morbid, but I occasionally think about this situation by picturing my future funeral. I hope to have many people remember me and my best qualities and miss me. I can do all of the amazing achievements in life I want, earn advanced degrees and go to cool events and concerts and visit amazing places, but in the retrospect of life, if nobody cares or remembers…how much does that matter?
Socializing doesn’t come easily to everyone. It can be scary and uncomfortable. It might even make you anxious. It truly is a learned skill you have to practice if your routine is solitude. For college last year, that was forcing myself to go out and socializing at least once a month. It held myself accountable to make sure my life wasn’t strictly revolved around working and studying, that I was enjoying the other parts of college, too, like making memories driving to restaurants at midnight just because. Even just reaching out to others to see how life is going is important.
And I totally get meeting people online. Social media is a great tool capable of connecting people like never before. Some of my relationships have strengthened from simply interacting on social media. But people you meet strictly on social media and never meet, it’s much harder to form the same relationship you have with people physically in your life. I’m not undermining them, but you can’t rely completely on them to feel fulfilled.
Cliche as it is, just be yourself. There’s a reason why small talk is so cringe-worthy: nothing substantial comes from it. It takes no thought to pass by somebody and ask how the weather is. Somebody’s background and passions are so much more interesting. But you can’t reach that point of intimacy from surface-level interactions, letting down your guard and just being real and genuine.
Overall, admittedly, socializing isn’t always too fun. I can remember several times where I went out and all I wanted to do was go back home and not see anybody for a few days. But the end results, the friendships and relationships I have with so many people…I honestly never would have pictured for myself even six months ago. I didn’t just randomly find friends and automatically clicked: I had to work for it. I had to prioritize forming relationships and be open to potentially uncomfortable situations to stumble upon great people and lose some friends who no longer benefit my life. It’s all part of the process. You just have to deep your toes in and go for it.
Hopefully I could be of some help to somebody out there. Knowing how to socialize is not entirely innate. For loners like me, it can be very intimidating. But I am so grateful for how much progress I’ve made. If I can do it, you can, too. Live your life to the fullest and make some awesome memories with people you enjoy; you won’t regret it.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie