Every Once in a While

Jun 17, 2019

We get caught up in our daily lives.

Daily lives

Exercise. Bills. Friends. Commitments. The pursuit of happiness.

Pursuit of happiness

And slowly but surely, the world gets smaller.

Pursuit of happiness

And smaller.

Smaller 1

And smaller.

Smaller 2

And smaller.

Smaller 3

And it’s not as obvious as the pictures above. You’re busy living life after all. Pursuing the dream. Work hard today, and you will get everything your heart desires.. somewhere down the line. Isn’t that what the books and movies tell us? The rags to riches story. The guy or gal who works their ass off for a decade or two, starts their own business and retires happily. The fairy tales. The princess who kisses every frog she comes across until one turns into a prince.

Frog turns into prince

We believe that we must suffer in order to deserve a better life. That happiness only lies on the other side of pain. And so we lift our burdens, toss them over our shoulders and we trudge on. Over spikes and flames. Through storms and hail. Fighting demons. Convinced that happiness lies just on the other side.

Fighting demons

Or perhaps you convince yourself that this is all life has to offer, and that life is just about compromises and adjustments. There are no happy endings, no happy-ever-after. You find someone good enough and you try to make it work. Like two pieces of a puzzle that just don’t fit together, but maybe if you tried hard enough, you could get by?

Puzzle pieces that don't fit

You stop believing in true love, or rather you believe that perhaps that it’s simply not something you will experience. You tell yourself that it’s time to stop being childish, to grow up.

Time to put the toys away

One by one, your dreams die. One compromise at a time, you shape yourself to fit into the life that seems to have found you. And then you put a neat little bow on it and declare that you’re done. You’ve figured life out!

Person in a tiny gift box

Every once in a while, someone comes along. They knock on your box and ask you if you’re okay in there. If you’re unlucky or blind enough, you nonchalantly reply “I’m good, how are you?” and they move on with their lives. Sometimes they climb into your box and stay for a little while. The sex is great, but the box isn’t big enough for the both of you.

But sometimes - just sometimes - something clicks. Maybe it’s something in their voice. Maybe it’s something in their eyes. Maybe your inner child remembers what it feels like to dream. You poke your head out of the box, and suddenly the world feels a little bit bigger.

Person peeking out of box

You realize that you’ve been holding your breath all this while. You let it all out, take a fresh one in, and the scent of flowers fills your senses. The world gets a little bit bigger.

Person staring at flowers

Your hear chirps, look up and see birds in the sky. The world gets even bigger.

Person staring at birds

The sun’s shining bright and bathes you in its warm, welcoming embrace. The world gets bigger.

Person staring at the sun

And bigger.

The world is huge

And it’s not that the person you met suddenly made your world bigger. The world has always been the same size, you just forgot. And that person reminded you.

With today’s always-connected world, it’s ironic that many of us feel less connected than ever before. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily drama of right-versus-left, of political correctness, of feeling society’s pressure to fit in. It’s easy to feel like we’re under attack and to strike back at the offenders. Humans evolved in communities, the need to feel like we belong is hard-wired into our DNA. And most of us would rather have an imperfect fit than to not have one at all.

I’m an introvert, and I’ve felt this urge to belong all my life. And there are a lot more of me in this world than there are loud, obnoxious “athletic douchebags” as someone I met recently put it. They’re out there, they’re yearning to connect with people and most of them don’t know how. It look me a year of therapy to learn how to reach out to people, to learn how to be vulnerable and risk getting hurt in order to make a genuine connection.

We humans either consciously or unconsciously search for meaning in our lives. I believe there is meaning to be found in reaching out to people and making their lives better in some way - small or great. But for any relationship to be formed, someone has to make the first move. When two introverts meet, both assume that they’re imposing on the other. Neither makes the first move and both leave convinced that they somehow let the other person down. Take the first step. I know it’s hard - I struggle with it every day. Just reach out and comfort someone in need. Let them know that you care. Become vulnerable and share a bit of your heart with them. People will surprise you.