In this digital age, it’s important to remember that everyone has challenges and that life is not always how it appears.
When perusing social media highlights, it’s easy to assume that everyone’s got it better than you. In the reverse, when you don’t share what’s bringing you down, others can assume you are just fine when in fact, you are not. I don’t know about you, but I tend to go inward when faced with challenges. It’s the introvert in me.
Recently though, I took it too far and ended up isolating myself and pushing away the people who love me most. It wasn’t intentional; quite honestly, it’s pretty easy to do when juggling work, a side hustle, kids, and other responsibilities. I simply found myself there. Isolation is no joke. Think about it! There is a reason why solitary confinement is considered a form of extreme punishment and drives people to their breaking point.
Isolation is the ego’s playground, with the ego as the insufferable bully who won’t let you be.
It’s a dark, slippery slope where scripts begin to form, and fear sets in your mind. It can even make you forget who and just how valuable and powerful you are. What the ego won’t tell you is that scripts can always be torn up and rewritten anytime you choose. It wants you to believe you are powerless when you are anything but. If isolation is the ego’s playground, then friendship is the soul’s playground. It’s sunny and bright there. It feels safe. It’s reaching out and connecting to others. Unlike isolation, friendship is oneness in its most beautiful form, UNITED because life was never intended to be lived alone.
How did I get out of isolation?
It took one friend reaching out and just listening. As I poured everything out to her, she repeatedly insisted, “You are so loved. Why are you not reaching out? You are so loved.” She didn’t try to solve my problem. She didn’t judge. She echoed those words which drove me to tears. She was right! But I didn’t want to burden anyone. Sharing seemed overwhelming to me because I had let it all build up in my mind. I had allowed this issue, this obstacle to become bigger than me.
When I would glance at those damned highlights on my social media feeds, it just seemed to me that everyone else was on the other playground; the sunnier one with no bullies. Why would anyone want to listen to my woes? Who could possibly understand when they are whooping it up on their vacations, getting all of their children to smile while looking at the camera? I mean really; who can do that?! Soon after that meeting, other friends reached out to me. That alone made me feel so supported. Then the Universe got wind of this and I found myself running into different friends quite randomly; once while out on a run and then again when my friend who lives out of state showed up on my doorstep. Just last week, I was able to catch up with yet another friend whose child happened to be in the same activity as mine.
Sharing struggles with friends may not solve problems but it makes us feel supported and less alone.
When connected with my friends I feel loved and when I feel loved, I am invincible. I may not be any further in making my way through a challenge, but I feel so much lighter about it when sharing with my peeps. Another thing I realized was that the highlights were just that. My friends had challenges and struggles of their own. Yes, the very same ones whooping it up with their perfectly smiling families and their amazing vacations. Big, seemingly insurmountable problems if they were to take them on alone. As we shared and unloaded, our combined burdens seemed far less threatening. No matter what is happening or what our current circumstances are, life does go on. How it goes on is ultimately up to us.
What has all this taught me?
That there is still joy to be had, self-care is our number one priority and humor is a must. Baring your soul over a bottle of Veuve’ and homemade chocolate chip cookies with a friend is not only perfectly acceptable, but it’s strongly recommended. We cannot let this life break us. We have the privilege of choice. We can choose, from moment-to-moment, to be happy or grateful; or at the very least appreciate how strong we are. We have the freedom to set boundaries and put our needs first. We have the power to reach out and pull a friend from the menacing grip of isolation into loving arms. We are all in this crazy, messy life together and together we rise, we overcome, and we go on. So, please disconnect from those highlights and reconnect with your herd.
I promise that as soon as you do, you’ll find yourself on that sunnier playground no matter what you are dealing with.
If any of you can you relate, please leave a comment below and share as much detail as possible in your reply. So many like-minded souls come here each week for insight and inspiration. Your story may help someone else find the courage to reach out.