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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: community

Day 632: About Not Being Scared

I started writing this piece before I learned of Robin Williams’ death.

And in full disclosure, I don’t suffer from depression the way many of my friends, families and peers do. I’m honored to have heard some of their stories over the past few days, and to have been privy to the depth at which depression is managed with grace, grit and sometimes deep, deep loneliness.

Cheers to the depressed. May you press on and keep sharing.

_____

Original post:

The other day, I had a moment. I woke up, took a shower, lay down on the floor, and stared up at the ceiling while tears sort of unceremoniously streamed out of my eyes, down my temples and into my ears. I felt exhausted. And hyper-aware that my wet hair was soaking the carpet.

In that moment, I felt anxious and incompetent. Logically, I knew I didn’t have anything to feel sad about – and I knew I could snap out of it if I really, really wanted to. But I didn’t want to. I felt compelled to stay there, stretched out, feeling anxious and incompetent, wondering how much longer I could delay the rest of my day. It was comforting in an incredibly uncomfortable sort of way.

I think sometimes life is just kind of scary.

And sometimes we should feel comfortable talking about how life is just kind of scary.

There’s a reason we thrive in communities – it takes all kinds of different relationships (dare I say a “village” of them) to support an individual’s emotional well-being. We need champions, advocates, reality-checks, comic relief, passion, warmth and challenges – and in the best communities, what an individual takes in in balance with what they provide.

But we (perhaps women, in particular) still struggle with this concept. We think we should be able to do it all and have it all and work it all out ourselves. We have to give more than we take. And we can’t talk about our sad or scary moments, because they make us seem weak and fragile, instead of normal human beings with deep emotions and strengths.

I’d like to be part of the movement that says it’s okay to talk about these things. That it’s okay to not have it all together, and it’s okay to ask for help. Asking and seeking is not weak – it’s productive and smart. It says you’re willing to grow and be challenged. And isn’t that a brave, beautiful thing?

Day 94: Not Solo Enterprises

There is an interesting American cultural phenomenon that makes each of us believe we should be entirely self-sustainable—our own support systems on our own islands.

I think that’s bunk.

In semi-tandem with Day 3: Seven Types, this post covers the things each of us can expect to source from our fellow human beings.

But first, there are some things we probably shouldn’t expect to get from others. On very deep and basic levels, we are each responsible for our own:

  • happiness
  • lifestyle
  • actions
  • money (how we get it and where it goes)
  • outlook (glass half-empty, glass half-full, glass with some water in it, etc.)

Beyond that (and possibly some things I missed), we need each other.

Whether from a philosophical or scientific perspective, human beings are not built as solo enterprises. Even on a microscopic level, we depend on a series of symbiotic relationships in order to survive (bacteria keep our systems flowing and we give bacteria warm and perfect homes). On a macro level, we have necessary relationships with other human beings.

But we can’t fulfill all of our needs with one person—best friend, partner or otherwise. That’s where a community system comes in handy. Between some kind of mix of parents, mentors, siblings, partners, friends, co-workers, kids, neighbors and awesome strangers, we can depend on each other for:

  • affirmation
  • humor
  • gut checks (also known as “that’s a bad idea” checks)
  • energy
  • ideas
  • touch (a hug is more important than its humble nomenclature suggests)
  • a hard push in one direction or another
  • fun
  • emotional support (for the horrible stuff and the great stuff)
  • intimacy
  • copyediting
  • advice
  • empathy
  • perspective
  • [insert a skill you don’t have here]
  • and a host of other really cool and important things

In short, we need each other.