- Do you feel lonely, as if you don't belong anywhere?
- Do you often feel misunderstood?
- Are you struggling and no one seems to notice or care?
- Do you feel like you have lots of acquaintances but no true friends?
Everyone has different needs and expectations in relationships. But I think we all crave a sense of belonging - to feel like we truly connect with other people. As an introverted people-person, my soul needs for those connections to feel genuine and deep. In fact, I struggle with superficial exchanges and would much prefer to retreat into my own thoughts than endure any social situation that doesn't stimulate me. For a long time, that made me feel like an anti-social snob, but I finally came to accept it as my nature. My need for deep and meaningful connections became even more apparent after uprooting my life and moving to a private island in the Caribbean, populated with significantly less people than my NYC block, and where most of my housemates and colleagues are fellow expats from SE Asia who speak very limited English. What started as fascinating cultural differences and language barriers soon turned into haunting loneliness. It made me realize the type of connection I personally need in order to feel a true sense of belonging. Not to say that feeling disconnected in a city of eight million people is entirely impossible, because I've definitely experienced that, too. But it certainly increases your potential for finding your tribe and cultivating meaningful relationships based on a mutually felt connection.
For me, connection is an energetic experience. It's ease, intrigue, curiosity, inspiration, humor, vulnerability, plus compassionate, emotional support. Connection feels intimate - letting yourself be truly seen by someone while they allow you to peer into their thoughts, dreams, and ideas. It's honest. It's where finding common ground feels validating and exploring your differences challenges you to possibly reevaluate long-held beliefs, opinions, or ways of doing things. Connection is growth.
Connection allows you to withhold judgment while first seeking to understand the circumstances that have shaped someone's opinions, choices, or even their self-worth. It's watching someone make mistakes (sometimes repeatedly), without letting those mistakes define them. It is humble, patient and supports someone through their painful growth periods. Connection doesn't operate from a sense of obligation. It is understanding, compassionate, and open-hearted. In fact, I think if we dared to invest more time and energy into genuinely connecting with others instead of simply co-existing with them, our lives would feel so much richer because connection is the energy that "belonging" is made of.
What does it feel like when you connect with someone? List the people you connect with the most and why.
Share this will all your sista-friends!