We all need and crave connection with friends, family, partners, and even self. Sometimes the connections come easy, but often they take a lot of work. Sometimes you wake up realizing that you have the relationship, but because you haven't been able to or willing to put in that effort they are falling apart at the seams. I don't know that I've necessarily been that far gone but I will say that I've definitely been (and at times continue to be) terrible at creating and growing my relationships.
This has been a huge part of my journey and has become one of the most important parts of my adventure. Going the path alone is very lonely, and in some ways I have for a lot of years. Sure, I'm a bit of an oversharer, but that doesn't make connections. I know...I tried... Also, you can have relationships with family or a spouse but still be so alone if you are not working together on growing the connection. Just being with or related to someone doesn't allow for great connection, we must work for it.
Here's the thing, or at least the thing as I see it, the absolute most important part of connection is your connection to self. I've always had trouble connecting with myself fully. There have been many things that get in the way but for the most part they can be categorized under "feeling like an imposter" and shame. Once I started to acknowledge my inner world and pay attention, I had a better sense of how I could better connect to others. In fact, it happened sometimes without me realizing.
Last week I talked a lot about imposter syndrome and how I have worked at dealing with the crippling feel of not being real enough. I also talked about shame, or at least shame gremlins.
I have Brene Brown and her book Daring Greatly to thank for my work on my shame and, in turn, imposter syndrome. But, beyond that, it helped me to start valuing my on connection to self and provide me with a framework in which to show vulnerability. Vulnerability is a tricky thing; most of us consider it to be less than brave or courageous when we feel we must be open and real in the world. The truth that Brene shows us in Daring Greatly is the reality that showing up and being vulnerable is the real test of courage. I highly recommend reading this book to anyone, but especially to those on an adventure of connection and self.
Now, if Brene showed me the connection to self, Amanda Palmer and her book The Art of Asking was what paved the way for better connections with others. To some it may be an unconventional book for such, but I found it truly thought-provoking and profound how she shared her ability to trust and connect with others, even strangers. I found that, by reading her experiences, that I was thinking and analyzing my own. Just thinking is better than nothing! This I also recommend reading.
These two books are what I come back to again and again as the real beginning of my journey. The moment when I became aware that something was needed, I was meant for more, and there was something I could do. I managed to check both out from the library around the same time, and they have forever changed my life. And the weird coincidence was that Amanda mentions reading Daring Greatly in her book, and I had decided to read both around the same time wholly on a whim.
This week, today especially, I am finding support in the importance of my connections. I am job hunting currently, and my tribe has been supportive and helpful in my growth during this portion of my life. There was a time when I would have been terrified and lost when faced with compensation negotiation, or even just navigating my worth and goals professionally. But, thanks to my people, I have shifted and grown into a better version of myself. I just hope I can be as useful to them.
The biggest advice I can give about connection is that you need to work on the connection to self to fully realize your connection to others. You'll be thanking yourself once you start the deep work of self connection. I know I am thankful.