I have a problem.
It’s a frustrating problem and maybe surprising to those of you who’ve known me for awhile, especially in a yoga context.
And honestly, it’s a little embarrassing.
I am bad at connecting with people.
Let me clarify:
I am great at connecting with people when I am teaching yoga. I’m great at building and sustaining connections, friendships, and communities supported by yoga.
In fact, this is one of the primary reasons I wanted to teach yoga. Community is so important to me. I believe we are stronger together, even when we have differences that would otherwise divide us. When we can find some common ground that encourages conversation (like yoga), we can create connections that give us strength, support, and a sense of belonging. We can accomplish so much when these experiences are felt authentically.
I struggle with creating connections on a smaller level. I’m bad at the interpersonal connections that are the foundations of healthy relationships. I’m terrible at making and sustaining new friends. I am terrible at staying in touch with old friends. I’m even terrible at staying in touch with my family.
It’s a huge problem.
I’ve had this problem for a long time, but it’s really starting to hit home lately.
I’ve felt really disconnected in the past few years.
I feel disconnected ever since becoming a mom twice over. No one feels as lonely as a mom, some days.
I feel more disconnected since moving from my longtime yoga community and taking my business online. I love teaching online, especially in my Conscious Healthy Collective, where I can actually see and connect with my amazing students face to face. But I miss having a reason to leave the house other than take the kids to the playground.
I feel disconnected because we’ve moved twice already in a little more than a year with one more move on the way.
Adding to that, social media has tricked me into thinking that I’m connected to so many of the people I love just because they “heart” the photos I share of my kids on facebook or because I comment on a photo they post on Instagram.
Social media can be a connectivity trickster.
It gives us the feeling of being connected but often without the work and messiness that can occur in real life interactions.
Here are some things about me you might or might not already know:
I can be awkward.
I use humor in all situations. Sometimes as a defense mechanism. Sometimes as a way of breaking the ice. Not everyone appreciate my brand of humor.
I’ve been told I’m “an acquired taste.”
I can be very reserved and quiet at times when I’m uncomfortable or unsure.
I am also super opinionated and have no problem loudly speaking my mind, which can be off putting to people I don’t know well. Or even people I do know well.
As my dad has described himself, I too am an extrovert in an introvert’s body. I want to get out there and do all of the things with all of the people, but it’s hard and often exhausting and more than a little bit stressful.
To make matters worse, instead of reaching out to people I want to connect with, I usually sit back and wait for people to come to me.
That’s a smart strategy, right?
Sort of like Kate Moss waiting for a plane at JFK, I’m waiting to for my soon-to-be friends to discover me. (Yes, I had to google “how was Kate Moss discovered” to find that one out).
I am not Kate Moss. Or Natalie Portman. Or any of the other celebrities discovered in random places. Most people aren’t. Waiting for someone to find you and choose to reach out isn’t going to be as satisfying as actually reaching out yourself to someone you care about or want to get to know.
My problem is that I want to feel wanted.
I want to be chosen.
I want to feel special.
As icky as it feels to write that out, I know it’s true. And I’m probably not alone in that.
I’ve also been burned before.
I’ve been betrayed by people I trusted.
I’ve been rejected.
I’ve been hurt by people I thought had my back.
I think most of us have some fear around reaching out and connecting.
I’m afraid that I’m going to say something stupid.
I’m afraid that I’ll be rejected.
I’m afraid that I won’t know what to say.
I’m afraid that it’s going to be awkward or hard.
I’m afraid of being judged.
I’m afraid they won’t like me.
And all of that could happen. I am certain I will say something stupid or that there will be awkward moments.
Even as I write this out, I realize how ridiculous some of those fears are. If someone isn’t forgiving or kind or understanding when those things happen, they’re probably not someone I actually want to be friends with.
If connection is what I want, I need to create it and actively participate in it.
So I’m creating a little challenge for myself this May.
I am committing to reconnecting.
I’m challenging myself to CONNECT WITH COMPASSION all month long.
It happens to be my mantra for this first week of May as well as the theme for my Conscious Healthy Collective community this month.
I am committed to creating small daily connections with people I care about.
I am committed to reaching out to dear friends I’ve lost touch with and reconnecting with friends I haven’t spoken to in a long time.
I am committed to rebuilding bridges where they’ve been nearly burned to the ground. Or at least trying to.
I’m also committed to the compassionate side of this equation, too.
I am committed to engaging in conversation with my 5 year old more kindly and compassionately. I’m going to listen more and remember to put myself in her shoes before I respond.
I’m committed to engaging with myself more kindly and compassionately. With less judgment and harsh critique.
I ‘m committed to thinking about the impact of my words and actions, whether used in real life or as a comment on a facebook post.
I’m going to start slow with easier actions and build up to the hard ones.
I’ve created a cheatsheet for myself so I can stay on target. If you want it, too, it’s yours. Print it out, put it on your refrigerator, or anywhere else you know you’ll see it.
I’m using this as a way to give myself really clear steps to take to rebuild these smaller, interpersonal connections that I’ve been missing.
I don’t think it’s going to be easy. This pushes at all of the edges of my comfort zone.
And I think it will be 150% worth it.