As human beings, we have an innate need for connections in our life. We want that validation from others that we are loved and valued. We want to have connections where we know we can be ourselves, open and vulnerable, without having the fear of rejection or judgment. We long for relationships that provide us with strength and that sense of belonging.
Brene Brown once said, "I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship."
I've always heard how it's better to have a few close friends with whom you really have a connection with, rather than just a bunch of acquaintances. I'll be honest and say that I can count all of my closest friends on one hand. All my life, I've always thought that I needed to have this long list of people I'm friends with.
The reality though is, if I did have a long list, how many of those friends would I really have a connection with? How many of those friends would I have that true feeling as Brene describes of feeling seen, heard and valued? Unfortunately, probably not many.
I think one of the hardest things though is when you take that leap of faith to form new relationships and that connection just doesn't occur. I'm an introvert by nature, so it's hard for me to be vulnerable and put myself in front of a group of people where I know no one. It's even harder when you long for those connections and they just don't occur. I don't think the lack of the connection occurring is any person's fault. I think we all just connect better to some individuals than others, whether it's personality wise, life stages, common values/morals, shared interests, etc.
I'm currently going through this exact situation and it's hard. It's hard to walk away from a group of people who you know you can always meet with at the same time and day each week. You know you all share the same values/morals and with some you even share similar interests. It's a group of instant friends. Simple as that. What happens though when you don't feel that connection and a sense of belonging?
It's heartbreaking because you want so badly to be a part of the group. You want so badly to have this group of people as your close friends, ones that you can be open and vulnerable with. No one in the group has done anything wrong or bad. It's just, deep down, you know in your heart that the connection just isn't there.
I'll admit, it's difficult when you come to terms with that fact that you aren't going to have connections with any and everyone you meet. I think for me, in my current situation it's so easy to start bashing myself with negative lies. I've chosen this week to meditate on this:
I'm having to remind myself that my connections in life aren't tied to my worth. Even though we all have that innate desire and need for connection in our lives, it doesn't mean that because a connection with someone doesn't happen, that our worth or value as a person is any different.
In fact, I have to tell myself that the sheer boldness of meeting with that group of people in the first place, is something to be commended. I stepped out of my comfort zones, my shyness and for months met with people whom I had never met previously. That attempt, will be what fuels me for my next journey on building new connections.
So, how can we form connections? What are some ways we can find people to connect with? Well, that's what I also want to share with you today. Bear in mind that connections do take work and time and like I've shared today, the first try may not yield a connection and that's OK. Keep pushing forward until you find them. They do exist!! Below are some ways to find connections. All of the ways I've listed are free!
Meet Up.com : If you aren't familiar with this website, it's a great place to find connections. Whether you have an interest in a sport, hobby, or just want to find people in your area that are in a similar life stage, this is the place to look! If you can't find what you are looking for, you can create your own group!
Local Library: Many libraries offer a list of community events or happenings where you can find connections. Of course, if you are a book lover, there's always book clubs you can join. I know local libraries here even offer writing clubs, chess clubs and knitting groups.
Social Media: With Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and email being the quickest and easiest way to connect with others these days, try posting what interests you and what type of gathering you would like to have. You might be surprised at who else desires the same, but just doesn't have the guts to initiate it!
VolunteerMatch.org: Another website that is a great free resource that can connect you to organizations and agencies in your area that are looking for volunteers. Sometimes the best connections form out of people who share a heart and passion for the same cause.
Bulletin Boards: A lot of restaurants, bookstores and coffee shops these days have a bulletin board hanging up. This is a great place to look for local happenings or groups you can join.
Through Others: I'm amazed sometimes at how a regular conversation with a friend, can lead to him/her telling me about a connection they have that would be beneficial to me. Share your heart with your current connections and you may just find new ones!
Interests/Hobbies: Maybe you enjoy arts/crafts like me or cooking or you are athletic. Maybe you like to play board games or read. Whatever your hobbies or interests may be, use those as a starting point to forming connections. Search on the internet, in local magazines or the newspaper and find places where your interests and hobbies are occurring. Then scout those places out in search of connections!
What are some ways you've found connections in your life? Would you rather have a few close friends or a long list of acquaintances?