No one’s denying that love (and the way that it’s expressed) has changed, but it doesn’t have to be for the worst!
Die A Happy Man-Nelly cover
Hold Me Up-Conrad Sewell
I Met A Girl-William Michael Morgan
I Choose You-Sara Bareilles
Little Romance-Ingrid Michaelson
Mirrors-Hunter Hayes cover
Over the last two months, I’ve been genuinely getting into instrumental or classical covers of contemporary music. Not only is it relaxing, but I also enjoy listening to it during any kind of writing session. Granted, I have plenty of other favorites, but this is just to start….
Love Story-Dallas String Quartet (Taylor Swift cover)
If there was one thing I found myself starving for this past year, one thing I find myself needing the most in the coming year, it’s connection. By nature, I am absolutely fascinated by people and what their stories are. I love getting to know a person, discovering what they’re passionate about and what makes them tick. I consider myself both an introvert and extrovert, where I can appreciate solitude, but more lean toward togetherness.
I didn’t get to experience much of that, at least in ways where it felt like I was doing more than just surviving a really difficult season in my life. I felt closer to people that lived in different states or even different countries, and incredibly distant from immediate family or friends that lived in the next town over. I was insecure and scared, constantly torn between facing the reality of what I was going through and desperately wanting to move beyond all of it. I didn’t know how to articulate what I needed, and didn’t want to come across as selfish or inconsiderate. There were times where I didn’t even know what I needed, if it was to talk about the matter at hand or to distract myself for a little bit. It was self-imposed pressure to choose between one extreme or the other.
I held a lot of things in, and that festered into a pain so great that I couldn’t see beyond it. As a result, I often shared parts of my story at the wrong time, (or at least what seemed like bad timing) or put my insecurities onto others. When someone didn’t show up or get back to me about spending time together, I automatically blamed myself. Certain relationship experiences made me want to put up walls and close myself off for a while. I was so afraid that I barely went to church and at times had to force myself to go out and be social. It all came down to a very large and very bold-faced lie:
I’ve been abandoned. I’m not wanted. And I’m definitely not lovable.
How terrible and sad is that? It’s no wonder how that attitude slowly turned me into a different person.
That’s not to say connection should, or has to involve baring your soul in front of people. One of my favorite memories from this past year took place when I went back to Iowa for homecoming weekend. I met up with one of my closest friends at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, and we basically spent the night drinking beer and margaritas, watching sports, and making fun of each other. I’ve never heard him curse so much in the time that we’ve known each other, and after midnight I was fighting to keep my eyes open because I didn’t want it to end.
It was unplanned, unexpected, and wonderful. Quality time should be intentional, but not totally manufactured in the sense that it could easily lead to disappointment. A lot of times I can just enjoying being with someone without having to carry on much of a conversation; a comfortable silence, as it’s called.
Connection, especially in today’s culture, seems to have more questions than answers. I can’t pretend that I understand why being busy has become a badge of honor, or why we do so much to the point of being unavailable. We’re supposedly so attached to our cell phones, but yet I know more people that don’t answer calls or respond to text messages. It’s sad when they only way you know if someone is even alive is through updates and photos on Facebook, though that is better than nothing.
I’ve learned the hard way that most of the time, all you really can do is take it with a grain of salt. Life happens. Everyone goes through rough seasons, and it’s not always about whether or not those of us on the other end did or said something wrong. I have friends where we can go weeks or months without speaking, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about one another. The older you get, the more people you have to keep up with, and eventually we might have to choose who we want in our circle and who we don’t. It’s not personal, and it’s not meant to be hurtful.
In light all of that, I’ve realized that the best connections I can make are with myself and with God. By standing firm in my identity, and having a keen sense of self-awareness, everything else kind of falls into place on it’s own; interacting with others becomes easier, and there’s a lot less fear and anxiety involved. I’m not choosing individualism over community, but I can’t be dependent on people or circumstances to bring me joy and happiness. Change is constant, and while I can’t control what happens, I can choose to be calm and trusting about all of it.
In hindsight, I do wish that I had been stronger, and had handled some things differently. I don’t always know what the right thing is, and that’s OK. There is no formula, but there is grace, forgiveness, and redemption. I choose that road, not just with others, but for myself as well.
What surprised you this year?
I started going to networking events this summer as a way to not only to meet potential professional contacts, but as a way to get out and and be around people if the majority of my friends were busy. They’re definitely a great way to make connections, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to always be open to the possibilities.
I can’t remember who initiated the conversation; it was one of those things where we both saw each other at the same time (albeit walking in different directions) and just started talking. He was a year or two older than I and had gone to school in the city. I discovered that we both shared a liking for adventure and going out and doing things (as opposed to binge-watching Netflix all the time). He was independent and well-traveled, and was close to his family.
He asked for my number by the end of the night, and the best way to describe it was like finding twenty bucks in a washing machine. I’ll call him Adam, as he looked more like one than his actual given name. We went out for drinks soon after, and being with him was a breath of fresh air, especially in light of what else was going on at the time. I was definitely attracted to his personality, but there was something about him that was both mature and sexy. He had his own place and was very ambitious.To cap it off, he pursued me, complimented me, and overall made it clear that he was interested.
I might have been getting ahead of myself, but it felt good to be wanted by a man. A man who wasn’t a kid. Or at least that’s how it felt when I was around him.
But then things took an unexpected turn; we were supposed to go put on what would have been our third or fourth date, and he never confirmed with me what was going on. I didn’t hear from him for almost a week, and what he told me that he would explain the details, that call never came either. From then on, communication was sporadic, and I had to literally keep my phone on all the time because if I missed a call or a text, I could never reach him after the fact. I sensed that it had little to do with me, but that didn’t stop the insecurities from coming out in full force. The last time we’d gotten together in person, I’d shared a little bit about some difficult experiences in my life, though kept it very-surface level. Let’s just say he responded in a way that made me wish I’d hadn’t said anything at all, and I occasionally wondered if that had something to do with the void in conversation.
By the time we actually got in touch again, I was very anxious and didn’t want him to see me in such a state. It had been about three weeks since we’d last seen each other, but I needed to calm down first. I asked him if he wanted to touch base after Labor Day, but never received a response. We haven’t spoken since, and while there are times where I’ve wanted to reach out, I didn’t want to waste my energy on chasing him. It would have just been out of loneliness.
I was sad at first, partly because of it being over, but mostly because of how it ended. I realized how much I hate being left, or not being the one to have the last word in a situation like this. It was like getting a carrot dangled in front of my face, only to have it taken away a short time later.
Yet, meeting and getting to know him wasn’t for nothing; for once, I was truly able to stand firm in the truth that I am NOT responsible for others’ actions, choices, or opinions about me.
I won’t deny the possibility of influence, but in any kind of relationship, both parties are completely capable of being honest with one another. Whatever his reasoning, he should have been able to come to me about it, even if something had changed at that point. We hadn’t really defined what we both wanted, and because of that there might have been assumptions on both sides. And maybe it was one of those things where because you haven’t spend that much time together, it’s easier to just stop talking.
When that happens, it sure as hell hurts. But the best thing to do is to thank God for the experience and for what it taught me, and to hold onto that perspective.
I certainly can’t depend on people to give me peace or closure when this stuff happens, but I do understand now that I need communication with the other person in order for a relationship to work. Regardless of where we’re at, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re human. We might not owe each anything early on, but if he can’t recognize that I’m human (whether that be emotionally or sexually), than that’s not a man that I want to be with.
If there’s one thing it comes down to, it’s this:
Break On Me-Keith Urban
-One of my new absolute favorites; not just by him, but also in general. I’m thankful for the people in my life that allow me to do this.
Hold Me Up-Conrad Sewell
Drink You Away-Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton
-If JT ever collaborates with anyone on a country song, I will be one happy lady!
Lay it All on Me-Rudimental and Ed Sheeran
Smoke Break-Carrie Underwood
-A reminder the underneath certain labels, professions, or beliefs…we’re all human here.
Country Nation-Brad Paisley
Whiskey On My Breath-Love and Theft
Have a great week!