Being Alone is a Choice

Five years ago, I penned these words, I hope I can get to 30 and be okay.

I was concerned at that time by life.  I was concerned about things turning out the way that I thought they would.  30 seemed so far away.  It seemed like an ancient age.  It seem like something that wasnt going to happen.  More than that I was concerned about still being single at 30 and that I would be alone.
However, one of the biggest lessons I have learned in the last 5 years.
Being alone is a choice. 
photo credit: via photopin (license)
We live in a world with so many people.  We live in big and small cities.  We encounter people on the subway, in the grocery stores.  We have waiters, and flight attendants.  Most people work with other people. 
There are plenty of people around, so being alone is something you choose.
We choose to look at the ground when we pass by someone.  We choose to put headphones in when in a coffee shop.  We choose not to say hi to someone.  We shut our front doors and avoid our neighbors.  We keep company with Netflix.
We choose to be alone.
Friends, I made a choice in my 20s that I will only be alone if I choose it.  I will have people around if I make a choice to let them be around me.  I make a choice to live with a roommate.  I make a choice to respond to a text or an email from a friend.  I make choice whether to call my mom back.
I make a choice to answer the questions How are you?with more than Fine. I make a choice whether or not to engage in a conversation with the barista or just ignore them and stay on my phone.
Because of those choices, I find myself surrounded by people.  I find myself surrounded by friends who bless me every day.
At one point in my life I had this huge fear that when people figured out who I really am, they wouldnt want to be my friend.  So I would pretend to be someone else.  I would try to tone down who I was.  I tried to be other people.  It didnt work.  It was only frustrating and would lead to a lot of anxiety. 
When I let those walls down and let people in, I found that my friends really did love me for me.  They really did care about me.  I let them love me in the way they know how and I loved them in my own way.  When that freedom happened, I didnt feel so alone.
I felt apart of something. I felt like I belonged.  And isnt that what we all long for, to be apart of something, to belong. 
Now at my 30th birthday, I am struck how amazing my life is. More than I could have asked for, or imagined.  Exactly in the style of the Lord. 

What started with me inviting people over for dinner on a weekly basis has turned into some of my most rewarding friendships. Some have moved away and moved back, but it provided an opportunity to let each other into our lives. 
Friends, we live in a culture filled with ways to form connections with people.  You can be physically alone but be connected to people 24/7.  It isnt hard to connect on the surface with people.
There are so many excuses for this. 
Work is crazy these days.
I am exhausted all the time.
I live in a big city and it is so hard to get connected.
No one has similar interests as me.
“No one really understands me.”
These are excuses. These are things we say to ourselves because we making finding our people hard.
IT can be hard and sometimes scary.  Let me tell you.  Sometimes I want to give it up because people are complicated and they can hurt you and have messy dramatic lives.  But what is the alternative.  To be alone forever.  What sort of life do you want to lead?  
So many people are craving it,  I want community.  I want to find people that really know me and I them.
Then do it.  Then make the choice to be involved in peoples lives. Make connecting a priority.   Be brave and introduce yourself to someone, ask them to get some coffee, beer or pizza.  (Most people like pizza.)  Yep it might be super scary and they might say no.  But they might say yes. 
In the end though, letting people in your life and letting yourself be known and loved by friends and family is a part of the human experience that I wouldn’t give up.  Because when life’s storms hit and they will, those are the people that will be your life raft. Don’t give up on people after hard times, that is usually when it gets good.  The depth of connection increases after the storm. 
Friends, what is holding you back from finding those people to live life with? If you don’t already have a community of people, what could you do to start to form it?

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Good Friends=Comfy Sweatshirt

I am currently sitting in a coffeeshop (Stella’s) in Denver, pretending I live here. (I do this often when I am in another city, it perhaps is my favorite traveling activity. I think I am adding “Sit in a coffeeshop in every city I visit” to my bucket list.) I am visiting a friend on my Spring Break. This is a friend that I have had for about 5 years of my life. I hate that she lives so far from me but I am so excited to see her. (Her husband is cool as well. He would be upset if I didn’t mention him too.)

So this is a post about friends…good friends. For the longest time, I kept my friends outside some walls I built around my heart, I was afraid that if they really knew me they wouldn’t love my anymore. Friends are risky, but worth it.

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When I was younger, as in middle school, I longed for really good friends. All my childhood friends became cool and popular and I was neither of those things.

So…

I longed for a Best Friend….
that I could tell all my secrets to
that I could have sleepovers with
that I could talk to for hours and hours
that friend that I called her mom my 2nd mom and she did the same
that friend that would be over my house all the time or mine hers
(Like on Boy Meets World or Full House)
that best friend that everyone knew was my best friend.

I longed for friends that I could have easy conversation, that would know me and I would know them. I used to pray for this kind of friend to enter my life.

When I went to college, that was my one goal, to meet my best friend. Other girls, they wanted to find their husband. I just wanted friends.

And friends I did find.

I found friends that I could have fun with.
….friends that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
….friends that I could sit in silence with
….friends that I could spill my guts to (I need friends that are good listeners…I talk through everything.)
….friends that wanted to be around me. (I hope this is true…I have never asked them.)
….friends that loved me for me even when I am hard to love (which I think is pretty often)

Lately, I have had some rough patches with friends and I think that happens as time goes on and we change or make changes to our lives. However, if they weren’t good friends they wouldn’t call me out on my crap or be willing to talk through issues. This I know to be true.

I am not one to give up on friends and hopefully they won’t give up on me.

I have been also meeting new friends/expanding my social circle. As great as it is to meet new people because they have no idea about who I used to be and I have a clean slate with them….

……There is something though about friends who have known you for a while, good and bad moments, that you can let down your hair and relax. It’s priceless. Sort of like this… video of Adele and her best friend.

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As for my sweatshirt analogy…

I have this K-State sweatshirt that I bought my last year on campus. It is way too big for me now, but I still love to wear it because it is comfy and feels like a warm blanket. I love to wear it on a chilly Saturday morning or wear it when I am sick. And no matter how many other jackets or sweatshirts I get, this one is the one I go back to.

Spending time with friends who really know me and care about me is like putting on that sweatshirt. It is comforting and keeps me warm. They really know me and encourage me. It nice to have easy conversation, plenty of things to talk about, mutual friends to relate stories about, and just relax around.

Good friends provide you with a sense of belonging. I think we all long for that. We are built/created to want to belong somewhere, that’s why God created community. We need it even when we don’t want it, we need people.

My question to myself after writing all this is….as good of friends that I have…am I that good of a friend? Just a thought to reflect on.

Do you have friends that are a like a comfy sweatshirt? Are you that friend?