As an extroverted introvert, I LOVE people. I love peeling back the layers of someone’s story, understanding what makes them excited to wake up in the morning, what brings a light to their eyes and a smile to their face. I value meaningful conversation so much so, that conversations about the weather and traffic seem mundane and annoying to me. Being introverted at my core though, I also LOVE time to myself. I am recharged by moments of quiet reflection, a walk on the beach, reading a book, or writing… definitely writing. Often these sides of myself are at odds with each other, and despite knowing that I am most fulfilled when I am deeply connected with others, I have to make an effort to Be Connected.
In our day and age where it is so much easier to pick up our phones and check Facebook than to converse with someone across the table or on the bench next to us, it’s sometimes counterintuitive to connect with others in a meaningful way. It’s one of the reasons I love Europe so much… there’s still elements of connectivity built into their culture in ways that have diminished in the US. When I am traveling in Italy, I’ve been asked to put my phone away when I get my morning coffee at the corner café because that time is meant to converse with neighbors and savor the start to the day. Many of my friends roll their eyes at this and have told me there is NO WAY they’d survive in that culture, and I can relate at times, but it encourages connected. If I am standing at the coffee bar without my phone, then by default, I will look around, I’ll make eye contact with the gentleman and his granddaughter next to me, I’ll ask the barista about his family, I’ll make friends with the neighboring shop owner who shares my taste in design. But I digress…
Being connected doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take some effort. On the most basic level, it is about sharing a smile with someone you pass on the street or making eye contact with the store clerk. It’s about moving outside of our normal routine and engaging with someone else.
On the craziest days, when I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe, I stay connected by texting a friend just to say Hi, I’m thinking about you, asking about their important meeting from the day before or the doctor’s appointment they were nervous about. Sharing a word of encouragement… I LOVE to encourage people. Over a long period of time I recognize that this isn’t substantial connection, but it’s what keeps me going when life feels insane.
What being connected really looks like to me is at least one deep, authentic, genuine connection with someone each day. It means asking questions beyond “how are you” and sharing vulnerable moments of failures and disappointments. It’s writing a letter or dropping a postcard in the mail when I’m traveling.
Time out. Right now. Is there someone on your mind? Someone you’ve been meaning to text, or call, or email, or write a letter to? If you have time to read this post, then pause… right now… and do it. Send that person a text. Block a time on your calendar today to call them. Take a minute to write them a postcard. Then come back and read. This can wait. Connection shouldn’t.