The Courage to Connect

To fully understand what I am talking about, you might want to read  my previous entry “This I Believe”, which you can find here

Day 6-Connection

Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who is one person that you’ve been dying to connect with, but just haven’t had the courage to reach out to? First, reflect on why you want to get in touch with them. Then, reach out and set up a meeting.

Connection: a basic human interaction that I love, but something I found myself genuinely afraid to do (especially during this past school year). No, it’s not that I didn’t make friends or that I didn’t talk to people, but only to a certain extent. I allowed many to see my strengths, but not my weaknesses; I felt that if I did, they would somehow see me differently or feel this unwarranted obligation to take care of me. And before I opened up to anybody, I had to have this definite reassurance that that kind of thing wasn’t going to happen. But even when they did reassure me, I still felt the urge to put on a brave face because I didn’t want to come across as a negative or bitter person.

Again, my freshman year was extremely eye-opening and wonderful. But there were definitely times where I felt lonely and wanting to get to know someone but not really knowing how to approach them.
I don’t normally consider myself to be a shy person: during the first week that I moved in, I had no problem knocking on neighboring doors or stopping people in the halls and introducing myself. When I went out, I hardly thought twice about asking a guy to dance in a dimly lit night club (well, unless another girl got to him first). But I do have some insecurities, which have kept me from talking to people (at least right away).
For example, I have a friend whom I have known for close to two years. We met in my junior of high school and wound up at the same college together. Despite the fact that I’ve known her for some time, I would get intimidated and afraid to go talk to her every time we ran into each other. Or, there were people that I would see frequently around campus, but it took me awhile to do it simply because they had an aura of sorts that made me think “well, it’s not if I should talk to them, but how.” I would find out that most of the time it was easier than I made it out to be.
In turn, I’ve realized that there are times when I, personally, can be difficult to approach. I understand that just be seeing how I walk, people may or may not know what to say to me. That’s why when I’m walking around, I do my best to always say hi to those that I know and to smile while I’m at it. It’s my little way of saying “I don’t bite; you can talk to me.” I will clarify that there are times where if someone is joking around with me, I may look like I’m taking it too seriously. The truth is, I don’t always know how to respond in a way that is somewhat, if not equally funny.
To some, connecting with others may be easier these days because of the advances that have been made in technology. Facebook almost literally allows a person to see what another is doing and when. Texting and skype enable people to communicate with each other anywhere, anytime (for the most part). And the best part is that it’s all behind a computer screen.
But over the years I’ve seen that communication and technology can be both be a double edged sword. When texting, tweeting, or facebook chatting, you have to make sure that what you’re saying doesn’t end up getting interpreted the wrong way. Just because you write on someone’s “wall” doesn’t mean they will necessarily write back. Heck, just because someone has a Facebook doesn’t mean they’ll use it all the time. Not too many people have landlines these days, so if their cell phone breaks and they can’t get a new one right away, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to talking to that person.
It’s not that technology is completely harmful and/or useless. I use it not because it’s always easier, but at times it’s the only option I have. Life gets busy and there are time periods where my friends and I aren’t always able to sit down and catch up. So we do whatever is necessary to keep in touch, even if it’s somewhat superficial. I think that’s why I post my blog links to Facebook; because there are instances when there isn’t even a whole lot a time to even talk on the computer. It’s my way of saying “we may not be able to really talk right now, but here’s what’s going on in my life and how I feel about it.”
I’ve learned that connecting isn’t always about sitting down and telling someone your life story. Sometimes it’s just having lunch together or telling a friend about what you did over the weekend. Sometimes it’s whispering back and forth over a really boring lecture. Sometimes it’s laughing your butt off over stupid jokes. And sometimes it’s just saying a simple hello or giving somebody a hug.
And a lot of the time, it’s not about waiting for the “right” moment to do it; frankly, the right moment is often whenever there is an opportunity being presented.
With the original question in mind, yes, there are several people that I’d like to re-connect with, or perhaps even just connect for the first time. I can name at least five or six people; the issue is, it is more often a matter of being able to talk to them; as I indicated previously, some don’t have working cell phones (or I don’t have their numbers), don’t use Facebook a whole lot, or are just flat out busy. The best thing I can personally do right now is just to appreciate whatever amount of time someone can give me, even if it’s just five minutes.  My goal is to have been able to connect with certain people, or getting to know them all over again, by the end of 2011. 
Yes, digital connection may be the easiest thing to do. But I need to be able to look at a person and actually speak to them. That, I believe is how you get to know someone; not by the things that they tell you, but what you notice about them. 

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