Rambling and thinking out loud
The pandemic has made a lot of us appreciate the importance of social connection. Yes, connection isn’t just having people close. We can be living with someone and not feel connected to them at all. Connecting well and the ability to nurture authentic relationships are both crucial elements in maintaining positive mental health. It’s connecting with people you trust and feel safe with. Why is it so important to have genuine relationships though? Why does it matter whether or not I can be my true self with my friends? I think maybe it’s because if I am able to be vulnerable with them, I know that their love is genuine and it’s an acceptance and a belonging that is real too. It’s having a group of people you can be yourself with. They are the same people who have the ability to remind you of who you are during tough times.
Connecting well also means choosing my relationships. It also means learning how and when to say no. Having healthy boundaries and healthy relationships enables me to look after myself; looking after myself so that I am able to fully and wholeheartedly take care of others also. What comes to mind here are the instructions the flight attendant gives when demonstrating how to use the oxygen masks in case of an emergency: the critical thing to remember is to secure the oxygen mask to yourself first, before attempting to help anyone else. You won’t be able to help anyone else if you’ve fainted and passed out from lack of oxygen.
Self-love… is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.Shakespeare
Connecting well also means being able to enjoy solitude. I’m a very social person, my friends have always said this about me. In my teens and throughout my 20s I hardly had any quiet days or nights. Each day was filled with study and work and travel and sport and parties and backpacking and freediving and ambition and volunteering. Somewhere during my 30s though, I found this treasure that is solitude. I still enjoy being busy and being in the company of friends and family, but I’ve found that having some time just to myself is equally life-giving. I am able to come back to myself, connect with myself. I’ve enjoyed travelling with partners and friends, but I’ve also relished in being able to go camping on my own.
Connecting well is also about being present in the moment. In addition to the isolation challenges that many have experienced during the pandemic, a few of my friends have also experienced grief and loss this year. It made us really reflect on how quickly time flies.
Be in the moment, capture it, make joyful memories.