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 Thank You To My Boyfriend's Family

Because you are so important to him, you are important to me.

This one isn't easy to sit down and write because nothing I could say would do all of you justice in the way that I would hope I could. These are just words, but I hope that I am able to always show my thank you to you by treating him like the prince he is.

I can replay the moment of meeting each and every one of you all over and over in my head like it was yesterday. I was so extremely nervous every single time and I was trying to gather all the "right" things to say that would leave a good, first-lasting impression and that at the end of the day, you all would like me.

I think one of the most important basis and hopes in my relationship is that my significant other's family likes who I am. This is so important to me because whatever is important to him is equally important to me and your thoughts of me are crucial to our relationship.

The second I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed—overwhelmed with such a love. I had no idea at that point in time just how much you would all mean to me and how thankful I am for all of you!

Thank you for constantly making me laugh and feel at home.

Whenever I'm coming over for a family gathering or just to hang out, I know right off that I am walking into a world of laughter and good times are right beside that. You are all so entertaining and always have a good story to tell me. I can't name one time where I didn't feel like I was home.

And I appreciate the sweet, embarrassing photos and stories about my boyfriend that you all share with me! Even if it is by a photo, I have a glimpse of what his life has always been like thanks to each and every one of you individually.

Thank you for sharing your special moments in life with me.

You don't ever have to, but you invite me anyway. Whether it's just a family gathering, a birthday, or a holiday, I am thankful to have spent those times celebrating these moments in life alongside such amazing people. It's humbling and heartwarming to be a part of memories so unforgettable that you all share and that you have welcomed me to be a part of. They are days that I will never forget and have a place in my heart forever.

Thank you for always being there for him.

Since we have started dating, I have watched the way that you guys love him. I have watched the individual relationships and moments that you share with him make a difference in who he is. I have seen you all love and support him, no matter what he was doing.

With everything that comes along in life, this has been a simple reminder of an unconditional, loving, sacrificing family that is also the best support system. You are not only impacting him, but me, too.

Thank you for welcoming me in like your own.

Whenever you have to brave up and meet your significant other's family, I can say, for myself, that I didn't know what to expect. As I'm sure, none of you did when meeting me. Today, I catch myself wondering why I even worried in the first place. You all have welcomed me in your own ways and made me feel right at home. It is not always easy to do that with just anyone, but you have all taken the time to get to know me. And now I know that if I ever needed anything, I can call one of you.

Thank you for letting me date him.

I am most thankful for this. Thank you for sharing him with me and giving me a chance to show you all how important he is to me. I never thought that I would luck out and meet someone as special, kind, and wonderful as he is, but I did.

You have supported our relationship, given me a chance to love him, and welcomed me to new adventures in love and family. I have the upmost gratitude for each of you. You are the most wonderful, welcoming, and loving family. I am overjoyed to be able to experience just a glimpse of this life with him and with all of you.

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A Letter To The Best Friend I Thought I Would Never Have

We may not have grown up together, but I cannot wait to grow old together.


Dear Best Friend,

I walked into a room with anxiety running rampant in my mind. I knew almost no one and was afraid to say anything for the fear of being perceived as awkward. I do not know how you were feeling that day, but when I saw you and you asked me something, I felt ten times better knowing that someone was not afraid to talk to me.

The rest of that summer we did not talk as much, and I thought our aquaintance was short lived, but God had differnt plans. Our junior year of high school, we were placed in the same leadership program and had the opportunity to grow closer, as we laughed about silly inside jokes that only we and the walls would understand.

The greatest growth in our friendship happened, however, when we began opening up to eachother about our individual struggles. Ironically (but not by coincidence), our problems were often similar.

I would just like to say thank you for everything: whether it be heartbreak, anxiety, or anger, you have listened to me rant about it all. And I cannot express my gratitude enough for how blessed I am to be entrusted with your troubles as well.

Those nights where we pour our hearts out to each other, sobbing as we eat our poorly-made brownies will forever be cherished and needed. Thank you also for the times where you told me I would be an idiot for doing something, but taking me in like a wounded puppy when I did it anyways.

You are beautiful. Sometimes I become jealous, as I see your kind heart and outgoing personality. Then God reminds me of how I should not be envious but, instead, thankful. Your sassiness and spunk remind me of why I need to have bail money at all times (not really.... okay maybe, really). And your heart to serve others and serve God is why I look up to you so often. It is so wonderful to not only have a best friend but a role model. After praying for a person like you for song long, having you as a sidekick is a constant reminder of God's faithfulness.

Growing up, I was always heartbroken by the fact that I did not have a best friend. I had (and still have) some great pals, but none have known me better than you. Even though we did not meet at middle school orientation, or grow up across the street from one another, God knew exactly when to place us in each other's lives.

During junior year, life becomes crazy as we are preparing for college, and before you know it college is knocking at the door. As life began to change for both of us, we were able to grow through those changes together, and I am so excited to experience the future with you in it. For 16 years I searched for someone who would fight through my awkwardness, my anxiety, my scattered-brain-ness, and still want to be my friend. I am forever grateful God chose that one person to be you.



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