"How are you?" is my least favorite question in the world.
We ask and are asked this question dozens of times a day. It's a question we hold
Aging is notoriously coupled with a downsizing in circles of friends. Over time, they say we grow to value quality over quantity when it comes to friendships. The idea of putting an emphasis on the quality of our relationships resonates with me on many levels, yet the idealist in me can't help but wonder: How many people do we write off without inviting them in? How often do we ask "How are you?" instead of "Who are you?" and then think, "they don't get it, they're not for me". We are all guilty of this--we assume, we avoid. It's woven into the fabric that makes us human. That said, as conscious beings, we also have the power to adapt and to challenge ourselves to push beyond those impulses.
If you know me well, you know I've moved. A lot. Most also know me as a very social person. I am blessed with many strong and long-lasting friendships and have always thought of myself as someone who makes friends easily. However, in each new city, I struggled to make new, fulfilling friendships. I distinctly remember explaining this dilemma to a friend of mine in her fifties a few years back, and her feedback being, "It's hard to find meaningful friendships with new people because they don't know your story." I've been reflecting on this ever since, and I think I'm finally beginning to understand what she was getting at.
This year has been extremely emotional for me. Because of that, I've been more open with people than ever before. In my most recent move, I've made more close friends than in all of my past moves combined. I'm just realizing now that this isn't a coincidence. You know those things you don't want to talk about? The ugly things, the tragic things, the things that keep you up at night? Well, those are probably the things you need to be talking about if you want people to see you for who you are. It's in sharing our stories that we feel closer to others. The tricky part about sharing our stories, though, is that often times, both parties wait for an invitation. It's like that message you want to send to the person you're interested in, but rather than send it, you wait for them to do it first
I think what actually happens as you age is that you become more sure of yourself. You fall and pick yourself up enough times that you start to think maybe you're not so bad after all, and you stop letting your worth be determined by others so much. There will always be people who are not interested in you, people who don't want to open up or tell you their story, and people who just plain don't think the way you do. Even if you don't see each other eye to eye, aren't you curious which category they fall under or how you might more appropriately serve one another? What if you do get each other, and that other person was just waiting for their invitation? That's the sh*t I live for. There's so much untapped energy and potential
This concept goes far beyond the beginning of a relationship. Opportunities to be brave will inevitably present themselves throughout the lifetime of each and every relationship, and when we choose to ignore these opportunities by taking the easy way out (assuming, avoiding) we will often find that our
I'm writing this post to tell you how practicing this in small ways is changing my life, and to encourage you to try it too--to feel more alive, to form stronger relationships, to feel less in the dark. We're all broken or destined to be, and that's what makes us so beautiful. If you have questions, ask them. Try to be a little less predictable and on the surface by being more authentic. Tell people what you want and what you hate and why you think they're awesome. Ask yourself why you're holding back, what's really at stake. Don't assume you know what or how other people are thinking. Notice when you're avoiding something just because you're afraid of being rejected or criticized. Rejection can teach you a thing or two about resilience, you know. Make it sexy, make it fun, make it humbling. Start to notice how language can make all the difference. If you're tempted to ask someone how they are, make your question