It was the first week of September. I was on a Zoom call with my friend Clarice, a twenty-seven-year-old artist who lives in Brooklyn with a roommate and her adorable dog Klaus. It was a week in which fires were burning in my part of California while hurricanes were hitting the South and the East Coast. She sighed and said "None of this matters. We’re all going to die."
I told her I got it. We feel helpless in the face of the fires and rain on top of the seeming indifference on the part of so many to the systemic problems in our society. It is – and has been – a LOT.
But then Clarice looked at me, cocked her head, and said, "But I realize that humans make it better." It was like her reserves had kicked in. We talked more about the shit and the fear. Then we talked about what we feel good about in our lives. And in the end we'd given each other what humans need most: A place and space to open up and be real, and not have the other person run away.
Thanks to the pandemic, many of us are quite lonely. Many are languishing (a term that describes the "middle child between depression and wellness" as my friend Adam Grant recently put it). Even before the pandemic many of us had let work and other priorities get in the way of friendships (I'll cop to that). Many of us have had cause to ask ourselves Um, who are my actual friends?
We need to re-boot and level-up friendships for your sake and mine and for the sake of us all, because human connection is the marrow of our lives. This has always been true. But now, because a pandemic kept us away from each other for so long, to a person we are in desperate need of humans. (Even the introverts, albeit they need and want fewer interactions.)
I have some ideas on how you might do so:
If a book is too long for you right now, read this article in Fast Company on how to make new friends as an adult. Hint, you'll need to have some time, some common interests, and (and this is key) a willingness to open up. Yes, you can.
If you'd like to invest in strengthening your most intimate relationship(s) consider signing up for my class "Five Things I've Learned About Making Love Work" which will be on November 14 at 5pm PST. I can't wait for that. I'm trying to convince my amazing hubs to make a cameo for that one.
If you prefer to skip ahead and make progress today, wonderful. Think of 3-8 friends or family you want to be in closer touch with. Make a grid. Put their names down the left-most column. Leave all the rest of the squares blank. The blank places are where you can fill in your effort to reach out in pencil ("asked; date") and you fill in your successes in pen (what you did; date). Examples here include calls, dinners, and drinks. You could invite a friend to a show – I see you Broadway!! Below is a sample. (Yes I have a list; no this is not my actual list.)
And oh hey, I don't want to be too forward but you could even decide to spend a bit more time right here with me by subscribing to Julie's Pod if you haven't already. Also if you're interested in sharing what's UP with you, consider coming to my next Facebook Live roundup where I offer thoughts in response to the calls that have come in to my free confidential anonymous voicemail line 1-877-HI-JULIE and I'll be delighted to see your thoughts in the comments, too (or call the line to stay anonymous.) My next roundup will be this Monday September 27 at noon PDT, and the location is my facebook page.
In the meantime, let's get some conversation going right here right now by answering one or all of these prompts:
What's one thing you're going to do to get more of the juice of human connection? What are you going to do today or this weekend, or you know, like MONDAY to try to level up with humans?
What's hardest when it comes to connecting with humans?
Answer these prompts below if you're reading this directly at Julie's Pod. If you got this in your email in box that means you're a subscriber (yay!!) click "Join the Discussion" at the bottom of this email. If you're reading this on social media, you can comment right where you are, or click back to Julie's Pod. And if you would like a truly nifty Julie's Pod sticker, DM me your snail mail and I'll send you one for free (and then I'll throw out your snail mail address - don't worry)!
*Disclaimer: I am not a physician, psychologist, or counselor, nor am I licensed to offer therapy or medical advice of any kind. What you get from me is a fellow human with a lot of thoughts and opinions based solely on my lived experience. Please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line (800-273-8255) if you are having an emergency or are in crisis.
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