The lie of loneliness

I am a student worker in two departments at my university. The first one I was hired in, and where I have been working for two years, is the Department of Learning Technology. It is the department that nobody really knows about, but everyone needs something from at some point. It is a funny little department but I love it with all my heart. Tonight we went out, the five of us, to happy hour in order to celebrate my boss’ new job (even if it means leaving us). As we sat around the table laughing, eating, and being merry I realized something that should not have taken me this long to realize:

The biggest lie I’ve ever told myself is that I’m alone.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve isolated myself from people. There are a lot of factors that play into it, including part of my upbringing, but the bottom line is that I have consistently chosen to be alone. Perhaps I didn’t have those founding relationships that are so important to children and I never learned to really talk about what was going on in my head, but that does not excuse the fact that I have always had a choice to speak out. I have always had the choice to accept kindness. Yet I so rarely do because I have somehow convinced myself that no one could understand where I’m coming from and even more so, there is no way anyone could love me as I am.

Oh how wrong I have been. Twenty two years and I’m still figuring it out.

Tonight at dinner it hit me: Every time I’ve struggled, every time I’ve had a bad day, every time I’ve hidden away and avoided people, and every time I have needed someone there have been people within arm’s reach. If I needed to sit in my boss’ office and vent it would not have been a problem. If I needed to sit in a co-worker’s office and cry, any of them would have sat with me in it. These people that I have been able to laugh with, play with, work with, and enjoy life with are not just in it for the good times but would be there for the bad ones as well.

Why? Because that is what family does, and these people are definitely family. Of course we all have our imperfections, our unwillingness-es to reach out, and our own insecurities that leave us feeling threatened and isolated, but they pale in comparison to the love and affection we have for one another.

For all the times I’ve told myself I’m alone there have been people waiting at arm’s length, ready to be there for me if I would just ask.

So to anyone who feels alone, you’re not. To anyone who feels like their problems wouldn’t be understood, they might not be right away, but with time even the most complicated problems can be understood. To the reader out there who feels like their problem is too big, too scary, too dark…it isn’t. People care. It is hard to believe it and even harder to reach out but I have found that sometimes we just have to push through the difficulty, do what doesn’t come naturally, and allow ourselves to be surprised when it works out in our favor.

Would you turn away someone you know who needed you in a moment of vulnerability? No?

Odds are the people in your life won’t turn you away either. 

You are Wanted

I haven’t been blogging because I have been blessed with the chance to be in Oregon and spend time with my family. It is wonderful and I would not trade it for the world.

That sentence makes me smile because it shows how much I have changed, and a part of me deep down is proud. There is joy in healing.

So since I’m happy as a clam spending time with family, and cooking up some posts for another day, I thought I would simply leave you all with a song. It is a reminder that you are wanted, by God, by friends, by family, by the world. Even when you feel like the least desirable thing in the world, there is someone out there who would love to sit by your side and talk with you.

I’m sure of it (because I’m one of those people who is here to sit by you and listen).

Enjoy.

Keep your Eyes Open

It is really easy to get lost in the stress of a busy life.

I fall for this too often. Between work, classes, scheduled fun, school events, leadership activities, and friendships, I find very little time to take a minute to breathe. It is easy to fall into old patterns of coping, specifically putting off dealing with stress and letting it pile up. 

Lately though I have been realizing, with the help of a lot of solid people in my life, that it is very important to take time to reflect and accept everything that is happening. My counseling skills professor claims that one of the more important things we can figure out as people is how to sit in a room with all of our issues and let them just be for a while. To be able and sit in a chair, lay in bed, stare at the ocean and acknowledge all of the things that have to get done, that are coming up, all the things that take up time and energy, are simply there and they aren’t going to crush us. 

In order to do that, however, I believe we need to be actively engaging in fellowship. I am the greatest offender of this concept, as I have a tendency to avoid anything except shallow fellowship and keep all my problems to myself. It is safer that way a lot of the time, easier even, yet my lack of vulnerability leads to more stress and just encourages the problem. It leaves me stuck in a nasty cycle of trying to take care of everything myself and never letting anyone in, which leads to stress, which leads to greater attempts to take care of everything myself, which eventually leads to more stress…and I think you get the picture. 

With all of this in mind I’ve been trying something new recently: Being honest about where I am. Maybe this seems like a completely elementary concept, but it is one I have never been able to grasp. I’ve always lived in a world of my own making that dictates I keep things to myself and don’t trouble other people. There is a lot going on behind this thought process that can be left to another blog someday in the future, but for the moment the important thing to know is that this thought process exists for me. 

Being honest has been hard but each step of the way I find affirmation from people I care about and who, get this, care about me in return. They actually find joy in helping shoulder the burden of stress. They actively pursue a relationship with me because they care, completely and genuinely. That’s the beauty of true fellowship: We find joy in helping each other. It isn’t merely a duty (you shall love your neighbor as yourself), but is something that we can find joy in. They get excited when I share with them and that means the world to me.

So, in saying all of this I guess my point boils down to one thing: Don’t get lost in the stress of life. It might be easy to just keep pushing through and going it alone, but in the long run it is going to leave you beaten, battered, and powerless to help others. Let people in, let them love you and care for you in the same way that you care for them. Life is a little easier when you’ve got friends by your side helping you along.