“It’s the strangers in your life
That you’d never thought you’d meet.
It’s the hand that picked you up
When you’re laying in the street.
It’s the hand that cut you down,
It’s the dream that someone shared
When you thought that all was lost.
It’s the friend that wasn’t there.
You can run from all the memories,
But never get that far
For in the end they’ll find you
For this is who you are.
Change one note,
Change one line,
Nothing’s going to be the same.
Change one loss,
Change one cut,
Everything is rearranged…”
This is Who You Are – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Is it perhaps Fate that determines who walks into our lives and who walks out? Does the universe conspire to bring us certain people to us at certain times? Or is it all up to us? Or are we the ones who are in control and responsible for the friendships we gather and foster?
My social life has never been a bowl of cherries. I grew up very much introverted (without ever really knowing what that meant at the time), and grew up with much awkwardness around others. Ever since kindergarten, I never could “click” with anyone. I had a few close friends, but as we got older, we parted ways. High school was an atrocity- most people were shallow and caught up in the surface, material world. Again, I had a couple close friends, but over time they just didn’t stick. They came and went like the wind. Once college rolled around, I figured, whelp, if the whole friend/social thing hasn’t worked out by now, it surely must during college! Nope. Turns out, my friend/acquaintance group substantially shrunk through the years, and I still felt awkward in groups and never really wanted to be close with anyone. Yet, some of the few close friends I had at the time weren’t right for me, actually they ended up being the most toxic.
I had to figure it all out. And, I had to feel comfortable in my own skin. Thankfully, I feel I have accomplished both! I’m writing now to explain how, through intense, introverted self-analysis, I’ve come to conclusions that have helped me break out and start thinking about my social life and values of that in a whole new light.
One of the biggest factors for me, personally, was my social interactions growing up at home. I would say that I spent about 90% of my time either alone (since I’m an only child) or around adults. My parents never sent me to a daycare or preschool. They never got me involved in sports or any other extracurricular activities when I was really young. And, I didn’t grow up in an area where there were a lot of kids my age on the street where I lived. I do have to give my mom credit for raising me the way she did, as her dedication was unfaltering. I believe she still to this day carries a sense of pride for being able to teach me a lot before I stepped foot in a school. And for that I am grateful. At the time, I didn’t mind not playing any sports or going to any sort of lesson or what have you…I actually enjoyed being home all the time. My imagination flourished. I taught myself to play the keyboard, I drew, colored, built things, played video games, pretended and created scenarios while playing with stuffed animals…the list goes on. It would have been inconceivable to have to consciously share all that with another being my age! I don’t think there was ever a time I envied my friends for having siblings. Anyway, I quickly latched onto feeling comfortable by myself and mainly having one on one interactions.
As for mainly being around adults, well, when I was little, I remember my parents always hanging out, drinking and playing adult games primarily with my aunt and uncle. There were countless occasions where I’d witness them doing their own thing, while I had to occupy myself for hours. Then, when we went out, there were countless times that I would join my parents at the local legion where they’d sit and drink for (forever!). They plopped me in a chair aside the bar and gave me a soda and a snack and there I waited. A lot of the patrons there got to know me and said hi to me every time we went in, but it wasn’t like I was at the age to just strike up a jolly conversation. I would guess I was between the ages 7 and 10 ish. Point is- minimal contact of kids my age.
Both of these ongoing incidences carried into those unmentionable high school years. When summer after summer I griped to my parents that I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, they responded saying that, “I created that myself.” They claimed this, because I would allegedly turn down friends’ requests to do things. And yes, there were times this was true. I just didn’t want to. I don’t know why. Possibly because I enjoyed and got so used to the comfort of being alone. Now, I can look back and say, yes, my parents were right. I chose not to hang out, and then felt awkward when I did. Partially, that was because I had different interests and thoughts than them. Also, because I just wasn’t used to it! Part of me wishes I could go back and choose differently, but the other part of me realized that those events, feelings needed to happen to aid in the development of things much deeper inside of me.
It was during those times where I was alone that I channeled my writing skills- journaling more and creating more poetry. This was important, as when I got to college, my passion carried, and ultimately led me to choose my major in English where I was excited and comfortable.
Now, that I’m out of college, and am physically separated from those few close friends I made, it’s been making me think about where I’m at socially. The people that Dave and I do meet are about an hour away, and when we seem to meet someone really cool, they seem to be further away, are going to move, work a ton, or just aren’t a match. Good friends are hard to come by! So, instead of wishing for more friends, I take the experiences of positive connections as they come and learn what I can- then I realize that I am okay right where I’m at! Being an introvert, is perfect for the creative mind. The interactions I do have, since more rare, are more meaningful and inspirational. Ever since living with Dave, the people I’ve met have impacted me in an enormous way! Every one of them is influential in one way or another. I take the lessons I’ve learned and carry them, build on them, to become a better person, who is more at peace. Most of these people, these mentors and beautiful souls I meet are during holistic shows and are older than I. Therefore, their knowledge base of worldly experience is much more vast than my own. It’s nice to catch a glimpse of what my future could be- it’s reassuring to know that I can constantly develop new skills and have a fresh and pure mindset about the world around me. I know I can reach my own enlightenment this way.
Other than that, I’ve been working on calligraphy, writing more, getting back into music, reading and all the other things that I couldn’t do if either I was working all day or around a lot of other people. I’m carving out my own path without the external stimuli that might have the potential to interrupt or block my creativity. I’m diving down and dusting off hidden corners and crevices of my soul I never thought I’d find! It’s in those corners that I’m learning more about myself and heightening my potential while expanding my possibilities!
If you, too are looking to do the same, yet are in a busy environment, try to take free time in the evening, or perhaps in the morning to meditate and have alone time. It’s in those private moments that you can go down deep. Close your eyes. Ask yourself what you are desiring. Ask yourself what’s in the way for that. Then ask yourself how you can take on the challenge of overcoming what’s in the way. Be still. If the answer doesn’t come immediately, have patience. It will come. Always at the right place and right time.
Become totally empty,
Quiet the restlessness of the mind.
Only then will you witness everything
Unfolding from emptiness.
See all things flourish and dance
In endless variation.
And once again merge back into perfect emptiness—
Their true repose.
Their true nature.
Emerging, flourishing, dissolving back again.
This is the eternal process of return.
To know this process brings enlightenment.
To miss this process brings disaster.
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity,
Eternity embraces the all-possible,
The all-possible leans to a vision of oneness,
A vision of oneness brings about universal love,
Universal love supports the great truth of Nature.
The great truth of Nature is Tao.
Whoever knows this truth lives forever.
The body may perish, deeds may be forgotten,
But he who has Tao has all eternity.
Verse 16- Tao Te Ching