I’ve been thinking about connection lately, and feel like I need to write about it partially because it’s been so much in my mind, and partially because it’s been too long since I actually wrote something thoughtful. So I hope you don’t mind a bit of rambling.
It’s amazing to me how much we need to be connected to one another, especially women. I can feel connected to my husband, but it’s just not the same. Women need other women. I’m not trying to relegate men/women relationships to the background here, I’m merely vocalizing that we (women) require both types more than men do.
Have you ever noticed that we tend to dress for each other? We don’t dress for men mostly, we dress for other women. Our desire to be thin, beautiful, and perfect is for other women. Men don’t care if we have a mama muffin, often don’t notice if we didn’t put on makeup that day, and tend to be a little more accepting all around. So why do we care? I think it’s because we need other women and we think that appearance somehow equals acceptance.
I want to appear perfect, but I’m so not ever going to get there. I think I want to appear (and be) diverse, talented, and put together so that other women will want to be around me. I’m trying to earn something. Similarly, I tend to use my creativity as an attempt to connect with other creative people. It’s not to show off or say “look at me!” I’m really trying to say, “can we be friends?”
I think it often has the opposite effect though. If you think someone is independent, creative, and put together, you also tend to think that she doesn’t need your help or your love. But the reason you’re trying so hard is to somehow earn that love and respect. It’s a catch-22.
It’s also sometimes a cry for help. I’ve always tried to be independent and asking for help is really difficult for me. Asking for anything really, including friendship. I’m often awkward, silent, and mistaken in person. I spent my early school years being overlooked by most people, and sometimes that still haunts me. I remember making a goal one time to be the heroine in my own life story, not the heroine’s sister. (This was somewhat in response to my sister’s claim that I am Meg in “Little Women” when I see myself more as Jo in my life experiences and struggles.) It took me a long time to find myself, and sometimes I have to work a little to remember who I am outside of what other people see.
Having a baby this past winter was hard for me and my need for connection. Last summer and fall, I walked with women in my neighborhood most weekday mornings, and I loved the daily interactions. Then winter came, and it seemed as though no one noticed me, even though I was very obviously pregnant (which always seems to make you stand out). Brynley was born right before Christmas, and the doctor recommended she not go out of the house for several months. My connections were gone, and I felt it deeply. That’s not to say the friendships weren’t there, but I felt isolated and alone.
Then a lesson in church helped me think about other people. If I felt so isolated, how did other people feel? Was I ignoring others’ cries for help? Was I so caught up in my own home and family that I wasn’t looking beyond my own needs? Ironically, if I’d been reaching out to those I needed, I may have been helping them as well.
I guess what I’ve gotten out of this thought process is that everyone needs connections. Everyone needs to feel loved and respected. We have to become vulnerable to attain those connections though, and it’s not easy. So let’s be kind to one another. Let’s recognize each other’s cries for help, accept our offers (or requests) of friendship, and reach out to those who may or may not appear to need us. Because I need you, and hopefully you need me too.