Reentering the World and Connecting with Others

Introduction: the Positive and the Negative

First, the Negative…

The last year, due to Covid, has been a difficult one for many children and adults. It certainly has been for me. Several of us have spent more time secluded than ever before. I had plans that had to be canceled and felt reluctant to see ANYONE except for my husband (who did go to work for most of the pandemic). As a result, I became isolated.

Yes, like many today, I used social media. Facebook and Gmail were my socialization of choice (for I am not a big phone person). I found that social media did not provide me the benefits of in-person interaction. Three things happened: 1) My PJs became more worn; 2) I became less routinized and 3) I interacted on a shallower level. Gone were the deeper, more intimate level conversations I was used to when we were face to face.

Now the Positive…

I am grateful that people are getting vaccinated, and things seem to be getting safer from Covid. I even heard on the news that you could go outside without a mask if you were fully vaccinated.

Just the other day, a friend told me how her high-maintenance daughter had done a full turnaround since she finally was able to go to school. She was thankful the virtual teaching had ended.

I feel less anxious now. This is not only due to lessened concern about catching the disease, but also due to resuming routines.

And finally, the focus of the post, it is time to socialize again and get back to even deeper more authentic connections.

To Connect is to be Vulnerable

Vulnerability as a key to people connecting was made clear to me by two occurrences this week. 1)I had a heart to heart with a dear friend (that I just reconnected with) and 2) I watched a Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability given by Dr. Bernie Brown (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability).

Bernie Brown

Dr. Bernie Brown’s Ted Talk is powerful. She discusses how the people who are vulnerable are the ones who succeed because they connect to one another. She is not advocating going up to a stranger and sharing all your deep dark secrets. Rather, she discusses the power in sharing with another. These people that succeed see themselves worthy of being vulnerable, in other words, allow others to REALLY see them as them.

Dr. Brown discusses that folks that embrace vulnerability did not see vulnerability as either good or bad, just part of life. She goes on to give examples. Like waiting for results from a doctor’s test is just part of life.

These people have the courage to be imperfect and authentic. They believed that what made them vulnerable was necessary and made them beautiful.

Reaching Out to a Friend

I needed support on an issue, so I nervously reached out to a friend I loved from when I was younger. We had just reconnected, but I had really valued her when I was young. The experience was not only helpful, but I also completely understood why I had loved her as a kid. She put Bernie Brown’s work into practice. She made me worthy, for being vulnerable. She was matter-of-fact about being vulnerable herself. In fact, I was impressed how she accepted and appreciate life with some of the vulnerable situations she had experienced (for example, a close family member who tried to commit suicide.) She knew she was worth having survived some uncomfortable situations as we all do. My respect for her grew.

Conclusion

I am not advocating sharing your life story with everyone. When my daughter was a teen, I told her that sharing personal information was like toothpaste: if you squeeze out the whole tube with someone you cannot get the paste back in the container. However, a bit at a time makes sense. It is important to me she knows she is never to be ashamed of herself.

As more of us are going back to work and school I suggest you may want to encourage yourself and your children.  It is a more fulfilling quality of life. To realize all parts of themselves are worthy, even the parts that may be uncomfortable. And that connection with others is others is built when we are ready to share pieces of ourselves with others

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