The Importance Of Connection

The Importance Of Connection

We were created to connect.

I recently posted an article about my love of spending time in solitude. I wrote about how spending time alone is important, enjoyable and self-revealing. While I will always be one to seek solo experiences, I've lately been recognizing my need to seek connection.

However, this need is not solely my own. This need for connection is hardwired into all of us. It is quite literally a matter of neuroscience.

This need is a fact.

This need is ours.

We were created for a connection that satisfies us on a physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and biological level. Brené Brown says that connection begets connection and without the reciprocated energy of others, we suffer on all of the previously mentioned levels.

When I speak of this reciprocated energy, I'm referring to the energy that is exchanged between people when they make a connection that does not include screens or social media masks. I'm talking about that real, vulnerable, face to face, I hear you, you listen to me, substantial, human-interaction experience. It doesn't have to be emotional, it doesn't have to be serious, it just has to be genuine and all involved have to be present in that moment. That is reciprocated energy. That is the connection.

The more I thought about my inclination towards being alone, the more I began realizing that connection, for me, can be hard work.

I immediately thought why is connection a struggle if it's something that I'm hardwired to do?

Heavy stuff.

I've reached the understanding that connection is difficult for me because I battle with seeking and accepting help. At the end of the day, my struggle is with the vulnerability aspect of connection.

The following is a list of practices that I strive to implement in my own life. These practices increase connection and encourage the deconstruction of the walls we so often build around our vulnerability.

1. Don't mistake simple communication for connection

Having an online/social media presence allows for communication (not connection) to take place. A "comment" here and a "like" there does not constitute a human connection experience. I recognize the hypocritical nature of communicating this message through an online platform but let's look at it this way: I'm communicating a message that will hopefully encourage connection.

2. Practice courage

I gained inspiration on this topic from Brené Brown and I feel I would be remiss if I did not incorporate her definition of courage: In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."

By practicing courage according to this definition, you are practicing vulnerability. Yes, this is scary, exciting and immeasurably challenging (and even that is an understatement) but I’ve found that most anything worth doing is. The payoff can only be as big as the risk taken to get there.

3. Count your I's

How many times are you saying the word “I” when in conversation with someone else? Are we really connecting with another individual if the only connection we can make is to ourselves? I’ll help you out… NO, you aren’t truly connecting if you’re constantly turning the conversation back onto yourself.

Make it about them, make them feel heard, valued and appreciated. I think that we all have an intrinsic desire to be wholeheartedly heard.

4. Hear and here

One of the most crucial components of connectedness is being here and being able to hear. This means that we must disconnect in order to connect.

If we want to be here in the moment, wherever and whenever that moment is, we can't have our minds wandering someplace else. We can access our social media communication at any time but we are not always guaranteed access to an in-person connection.

So, when you find yourself with the opportunity to connect, show that person you’re listening and that you are not only listening to them but also hearing them.

Nod every so often, engage in the conversation, release any thoughts or questions that are distracting you from receiving the other person’s efforts to connect with you. that you can fuel others.

Cover Image Credit: Sophia Winter

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A Letter To The Grandpas Who Left Far Too Soon

The thoughts of a girl who lost both of her grandpas too early.

Dear Grandpa,

As I get older, my memories are starting to fade. I try to cling to every last bit of memory that I have of you. There are certain memories that have stuck well in my brain, and I probably will never forget them, at least I hope I don't. I remember your smile and your laugh. I can still remember how your voice sounded. I never want to forget that. I catch myself closing my eyes to try to remember it, playing your voice over and over in my head so that I can ingrain it in my memory.

I always thought you were invincible, incapable of leaving me. You were so young, and it caught us all by surprise. You were supposed to grow old, die of old age. You were not supposed to be taken away so soon. You were supposed to see me graduate high school and college, get married to the love my life, be there when my kids are born, and never ever leave.

My heart was broken when I heard the news. I don't think I had experienced a pain to that level in my entire life. At first, I was in denial, numb to the thought that you were gone. It wasn't until Thanksgiving, then Christmas, that I realized you weren't coming back. Holidays are not the same anymore. In fact, I almost dread them. They don't have that happy cheer in the air like they did when you were alive. There is a sadness that hangs in the air because we are all thinking silently how we wished you were there. I hope when I am older and have kids that some of that holiday spirit comes back.

You know what broke my heart the most though? It was seeing your child, my parent, cry uncontrollably. I watched them lose their dad, and I saw the pain that it caused. It scared me, Grandpa, because I don't ever want to lose them like how they lost you. I can't imagine a day without my mom or dad. I still see the pain that it causes and how it doesn't go away. There are good days and there are bad days. I always get upset when I see how close people are to their grandparents and that they get to see them all the time. I hope they realize how lucky they are and that they never take it for granted. I wish I could have seen you more so that I could have more memories to remember you by.

I know though that you are watching over me. That is where I find comfort in the loss. I know that one day I will get to see you again, and I can't wait for it. I hope I have made you proud. I hope that all that I have accomplished and will accomplish makes you smile from ear to ear. I hope that the person I marry is someone you would approve of. And I hope that my kids get more time with their grandpa than I did because the amount I got wasn't fair.

I want to say thank you for raising your child to be the best parent ever because they will one day be the best grandparent ever. Just like you.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn McKinney

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11 Signs Your College Roommates Are Basically Your (Cooler) Parents

Slightly less bossy, definitely as protective.

For many, moving away from family and home to attend college can be a very hard experience. For the first time, you are without an immediate support system and often have to figure things out for yourself. However, if you are lucky, you may be able to find some humans you mesh well with that make your college town feel a little bit more like home. And if you really like them, you may even decide to live with them.

That's what happened with me and my pals. Over the course of the time we have lived together, we really have become like family. My roommates love and take care of me and sometimes even make me dinner. They are basically like a second set of parents and here's why:

1. They bring you your lunch when you forget it at home.

And might even add a cute little note.

2. They clean your room when you have a "friend" coming over but didn't have time to make your bed that morning.

This actually happened to me. T god for Tracy... first room impressions are important.

3. They pick up the snacks you like at the grocery store.

In this case, dairy-free Ben & Jerry's. But only the coffee caramel flavor.

4. They pester you to get your homework done.

While the reasoning may be different (they want you to drink wine with them), the result is the same.

5. They attend all your games/presentations, even though you say you don't care whether or not they come.

But deep down you are very grateful for their support.

6. They know when you're upset.

7. They plan vacations with their significant other but still bring you along.

Shoutout to Sophie and Kyle for letting me crash Memorial Day Chelan trip 2018 <3.

8. They take care of you when you're sick/drunk.

OK so maybe they are a little more understanding of the post-drinking, late-night debauchery than your real parents, but that's OK.

9. They remind you to do your chores.

If you're like us, you may even have a chore chart.

10. They are your personal photographer.

11. They listen to all of your dumb, nonsense "problems."

Cover Image Credit: Sami Newland

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