I LOVED living in the dorm in college! I loved having people around all the time. At any time of the day or night there was someone you could go talk to, cry to, watch a movie with, study with, or run to Kroger with for some ice cream!
I am an extrovert – I recharge by being with people. I feel so rejuvenated after spending a couple hours over dinner or coffee with a friend. Or going to a party with a lot of friends and getting to talk to lots of people. I’m getting jazzed up just writing about it!
After I graduated college I got married and moved into my first apartment. I always envisioned marriage to be like a life long slumber party! I would be with my best friend and it would be fun and awesome all the time.
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
When I moved out of the dorm I felt so incredibly lost. Where were my friends? Who would I chat with at any random moment? Who was this man I was living with who didn’t want to talk all the time? Why did he want time ALONE? Being alone is TORTURE, right?
I married an introvert. Who was also an only child. Do you see the potential disaster here?!?!
Over time, life has gotten more and more isolating for me. My heart still longs for those dorm days.
But life is not a dorm.
Everywhere I’ve worked has had a small staff. There weren’t many people to interact with. And, there was this weird thing called WORK getting in the way of social time! THE NERVE!
I found some community when I was a youth pastor and pastor within networks of other youth pastors and pastors. But, being almost the only female at these gatherings, I still felt quite isolated and alone.
When I started doing VDub Designs I was hoping that could be a way to have “coworkers” of sorts…but my clients are all over the country. There are clients I have literally never talked to. I have never heard their voice. Everything could be done through email, so there was no need to verbally interact sometimes.
When I became a stay at home mom the isolation became almost smothering. Who were my co-workers now? A toddler? NOT a whole lot of stimulating conversation there! Every now and then I would run into another mom at the park or play land and eagerly wait to see if we could strike up a conversation. I would find ANYTHING on her or her child to compliment or ask about so that maybe, just MAYBE, I could talk to another adult for a few minutes. Sometimes it worked, other times they looked at me like I had two heads and did anything possible to avoid me and my deathly INTERACTION!
And even if I did find a mom who was also on the look out for someone to talk about more than just potty, poop and Elmo…getting together is tough! You have to work around nap times, feeding times, appointments, grocery shopping, nap times, feedings, nap times, (none of those naps were for us moms by the way!), etc. So, on the off chance that the stars aligned perfectly and no one got sick I looked forward to those few precious hours I had to TALK to ANOTHER ADULT.
However, my circle of friends/comrades/support system kept growing smaller and smaller. Add to that two kids who have some extra needs, and my chances at play dates and mom friends got even a bit smaller.
Life has taken some very hard turns for me in the last few years. Turns that have completely re-routed my life, my dreams, my plans, and wounded me incredibly deeply. These situations have kept me from wanting to reach out to people. They have kept me from wanting or even having the courage to risk in relationships. Trust has been broken and even though trust hasn’t been broken with friends, the thought of trusting someone new is very frightening sometimes.
But the more hurt and broken I’ve become, the MORE I need people. The very thing I am running from is the exact thing I NEED.
God has been working on me lately in this area of isolation/community.
This is a really hard lesson to learn. I know in my head that we are created and wired for community, that we can’t survive and thrive alone. But living out that lesson is tough.
Finding some community online in “virtual groups” helps. I can chat with others who are dealing with some of the same issues. I can gain support, knowledge, help, encouragement, etc. Which really is helpful! It has provided some sanity and that “Someone else knows how I feel” feeling.
But virtual community is no replacement for real, in REAL life interaction.
And that takes risk. But it’s a necessary risk.
One step at a time.