Not as Alone as I Think

I want to say something,  something illogical and foolish, but please bear with me. It’s been a while since I have written anything. There’s good reason for this, well no, actually it makes sense but it’s not a good reason, in fact it’s rather counter intuitive.

In the past month(s) I’ve come to realize something about me. I enjoy being around people, not ground breaking, but I need to be around people. I need to be with people I trust and I can be completely vulnerable with. The difficulty I’ve found is that though I have people around me I close myself off, in part because I worry about people’s thoughts about me, what I’m sharing, but in large part due to this feeling that I will overwhelm the people I care about with the extensive overthinking I do.

I feel as though, because I want to care for people around me who carry so much as it is, I cannot load more on their shoulders.

So the problem persists, grows, and compounds, creating an unhealthy Greg, withdrawn from the people that care for me and stewing in negative thoughts or just too many thoughts.

Foolish right?

Now, in the past to sort of “sidetrack” this issue, or for an eloquent “put together” way of expressing my internal turmoil, I blog, I write about it. (This is beyond the daily journaling I do). This way I can share a struggle, a frustration, a confusion, without true intimacy because I give it themes and metaphorical meaning, externally processing with the enigmatic wide web which includes whomever “chooses to read/hear” my stresses. Typically written blogs give an air of finality to personal struggles, like “writing about it means it’s solved, or mostly solved” which is much more manageable than unresolved conflict, which is messy.

Since I have been trying to work on friendships (or rather this is what I told myself) I didn’t want to share my struggles via blog without cluing in at least some people because then I’d get the typical former response of, “Hey I had no idea, please come to me if you ever need to talk”. I want people to know me, I need people. This is why I haven’t been blogging.

While this has been “good” I haven’t been doing my part. I haven’t been sharing.

I recently reread “Scary Close” by Donald Miller, this is now the third time reading it (I think this will become a habit). The book outlines how Don struggles with intimacy, how he’s been “performing” his whole life. He walks through his journey of discovery through his relationship patterns up until his wife. The book explores how life is meant to be shared and though it’s scary, to be known by people.

Rereading this book and a moment of clarity on a Sunday at church woke me up. My ideas culminated to a realization, I’ve been emotionally unhealthy. I realized it fully when my friend asked me why I was sitting on my own reading my Bible rather than be at lunch with my team/friends.

Reading the Bible is not the issue, in fact it’s a great thing, an essential aspect to life. It was the timing and the scenario. I timed my day in such a way that I missed lunch with my friends, in fact I didn’t miss eating, I had grabbed food on my own and then sat down to read. I told my friend as I was realizing it for myself. Because I need people to process my own thoughts with, I isolate myself when I am feeling anxious because I don’t want to overwhelm my friends with my anxieties.

I’ve been making things worse.

Last night as I was sharing with my friend an encounter I had with God this week, a moment where God was again asking me to trust Him which I was struggling to do. It was interesting though because after I shared, after I included him in my struggling and the process God was walking me through he thanked me. Not just for sharing “myself”, my process, with him, but also he was reminded of something God had spoken to him. My friend basically told me that not only should I share with people for my health but for others to learn.

Life is meant to be lived with others, to share the burdens we are not strong enough to carry on our own. To get perspective from those not within a situation, not themselves crushed by a specific anxiety. We can learn from hearing what people are processing and realize that we are not as alone as we may perceive.


It Snowed for Me

It snowed last night. 

I’d say it was for me, but I know better. Perhaps I can just be blessed by it, rather than go as far as to say it was for me. Now excuse me as I ramble on….

Earlier in the day I realized how Facebook and other social media sights like Twitter and Tumblr are very similar to drugs. They give this feeling of connectedness to the world, to other people that isn’t quite like real interaction. It provides much of the rewards of interactions, but you can be protected by some of the risks you run when you engage with people. You get to engage with people all over the world and find out about different cultures and see how people live. You can find people that you identify with, so you don’t feel so alone or odd in the world. There is a problem…

It’s not quite real.

On the internet, you can be anyone. You can present yourself exactly how you want to be, without showing anyone how their life is messy. You can come to people and share your secrets and have people accept you as you are, but not challenge you to see things differently or to grow. You see, when you present yourself online and everyone else is doing the same thing, you need to be loving and accepting. Accepting now means that you tell them they are completely right as they are in every situation (well as long as they too ascribe to this loving and accepting image that needs to be upheld) which means that people with serious problems or dealing with serious things are told that life is just like that, and you must accept it. 

Stagnant is a word that describes something that is unmoving, typically water, and as such it begins to gather bacteria, mold, mildew. When people remain exactly as they are, they grow old, unchanging. 

When you interact with a person in real life, it is raw, there is not edits and you are just yourself. Because every human being is different this means that you can learn from someone, when you learn from someone you can change. This is not always easy or comfortable, but you learn how to adjust to real life. When all or most of your interaction comes through a webpage, you can learn, but you don’t learn

When you interact with someone in real life, you can challenge people, challenge their thinking, and because of all the other forms of communication (body language, tone, etc.) you can still communicate love and acceptance while still sharing a different opinion and making a person think. 

The internet is safe. You can gather information, and spit it back out without blinking, but with people it doesn’t work like that, with people you have to think, there is a risk. There is loss, there is heartbreak. Dealing with someone’s sobs in person is sitting with them, holding them, it’s different than giving contrite words on a comment post. Participating in joy with someone is jumping up and down,  yelling and screaming, not giving extra exclamation points in a text. Real life is hard because it takes more effort, but the return is much greater.

Yesterday I realized how addicted I was to the internet, to the unfulfilling moments of engaging with people over wifi. I decided to begin to go out and live. When I had 45 minutes to spare in between meetings, instead of browsing Facebook or Tumblr, I went outside with my camera that was returned to me and took pictures. I went out to lunch with friends. In the evening, I had planned an event with my school where we had fun and games, and enjoyed one another’s company. It was beautiful, I felt so fulfilled. 

When the night was over, I walked outside. It was snowing. 

It was snowing for me. It was snowing so I could enjoy the moment of the soft silence of the snow coming down. It was so I could wander as I let my thoughts do the same. It was so I could think about my future and talk to God about my next steps. It was so I could live. It was so I could be sad. It was so I could feel romantic. It was so I could miss people. I wasn’t looking at a photo or reading a post about snow, I was walking through it.

Last night, it snowed for me, and you know what, today the sun is shining for me and I think I might just go out and live in it.