I’ve been reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. One thing she touches on is this idea of “feeling connected.” Connections with other people she argues is something we all need and strive for. It is right up there with air and water in terms of what we need to survive.
Some would argue our whole reason for existence is to feel connected, that we are all inextricably linked together, by God, energy, the cosmos,______ insert your own term here.
In part I feel this is what has given to the rise of Facebook and Twitter. It makes each of us feel connected, albeit I’d argue in a very disconnected way. All one has to do is log onto to their accounts to see they have 500 friends or 300 followers. You then sit back and think to yourself I’m rocking the hell out of this whole connectedness thing! Full disclosure I have 63 friends on Facebook and I probably don’t even like half of them, so maybe I’m just jealous, but I digress.
Don’t worry this is not some rant about how social media is the downfall of the entire human race (although I do believe it certainly is contributing).
Reading this sparked one of my many insecurities, one that rears its ugly head more than I’d like to admit. I fear my life is void of the connections everyone else seems to be having.
As I get older I start to worry that I’m not as connected as I should be. I’ve lost touch with old friends and have struggled maintaining relationships with new friends. Life has a way of taking over once you reach your 30’s. You have kids, start a business, work, family members get sick, etc.
I’d see a post on Facebook or over hear a conversation from a couple about this great wedding or party they went to this past weekend. It would make me feel that everybody out there is having a great time in their uncomplicated, party filled, I’ve got 100 BFF’s and you don’t life.
Honestly it is a little bit like high school, but now my back hurts and I wake up 2-3x a night to go the bathroom. All these people engaging in what I now call, senseless acts of human connection, was driving my OCD crazy.
A break through occurred for me as it relates to my OCD on this topic a few months back at a local street food festival. This event was the post card for generation x, millennial, Mumford and Son’s, tight jean wearing, bearded, hipster fun! I was going to go on facebook and post the shit out of this event.
After paying $30 to park, I proceeded to the event with my son in tow, where I found several food trucks I wanted to patronize. I finally settled on one and after waiting in line for 30 minutes I began sweating profusely, probably because it was hot out and I was standing on black pavement. Then it hit me, this sucks. I’m not having fun, it should be fun, but it is not. Everyone else looks like they are having fun, so what the fuck is wrong with me.
What I learned in that moment was I had been trying desperately to do something I’d felt would make me more like those other connected assholes on facebook. I realized I don’t enjoy these kinds of things and that is okay. Why force myself to have the kind of fun I had convinced myself was the cool or popular kind of fun? The kind of fun that would give me those facebook posts I so desperately craved. I looked at my son, asked him if he wanted to leave. His response was an emphatic yes!
We proceed to spend the afternoon at the park hitting baseballs and it was great. I loved every minute of it. I connected in a way that was meaningful to me and you know what? I had zero desire to post it any of it on facebook.
I don’t go to fabulous parties every week, or have super cool cookouts with my BFF’s every day during the summer, because I choose not to. Turns out it is not who I am and I will say it again, I’M OKAY WITH THAT.
For me the perfect day is being with my family at the pool, putting my son to be early and enjoying pizza and movie with my wife. This is not to say I don’t like going out or that I have this phobia of parties, I just don’t like doing those kinds of things on a regular basis. I don’t have hundreds of friends or become besties with everyone I meet.
What I lack in quantity I make up in quality. I stopped trying to live up to some mental image of what I thought a connected life should looked like. As with anything in life, it can be summed up with a scene from Seinfeld. The pool boy at Jerry’s club is trying to force his way into Jerry’s inner circle of friends. While on the subway Jerry suggests that when they reach his stop they should go their spate ways. Ramon asks what he is trying to say. Jerry responds, “look Ramon, you’re, you’re a nice guy. But I, I actually only have three friends. I really can’t handle any more.” Amen!