I wrote a piece a few months ago when I was struggling with living alone and losing many of my social connections in the city. It is a testament to how important human connections and bonds are in our lives. It is also something I feel many can relate to. I hope you enjoy!
How much effect does that brief conversation you have with the Starbucks barista while he makes your macchiato in the morning have on your mood? Probably more of an impact than you think. In recent months, I have been faced with a constant reminder of just how vital human interactions and connections can be in our everyday lives. Ironically, this reminder has been in the form of a lack of interactions. Before you break out the violins, let me provide a back-story.
This time last year, I was living with two girls whom I had been best friends with since elementary school. We made dinners together, went on late night taco bell runs, watch bad reality television in the evening, and basically created a safe haven for ourselves in our little three-bedroom apartment. In addition, I was working at an elementary school where adults and children surrounded me all day, everyday. After working as a nanny for many years, I was excited to actually have coworkers.
On top of this, I worked an afterschool program at a nearby elementary school with another gentleman who was about my father’s age and reminded me of him immensely. I think it is rare to make genuine connections with people in this fast paced world we live in, but I felt so lucky that I had made one. While supervising about fifteen elementary aged children until their parents arrived to pick them up, we discussed life issues that ranged from boy troubles and apartment searches to the importance of family and life satisfaction. To top it off, I had a boyfriend who I spent a majority of my waking moments with. I had a plethora of human connections in the mix.
Looking back, I wish I had appreciated this abundance of love and support in my life. I was so busy worrying about getting into graduate school and financial struggles that I never truly appreciated what I had around me. It is a perfect example of taking the beauty in the present for granted because you are too busy focusing on the future.
Unfortunately, this past summer, many of these connections lost their strength. In June, my job at the elementary school ended. I moved into my own studio apartment. One of my previous roommates, whom I had lived with in college for two years and moved out here to Chicago with, had decided to move back to Ohio. My boyfriend and I broke up. I had gotten accepted into graduate school at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology but ironically, my program was only offered online (which makes it challenging to make deep connections). I lost touch with my co-worker who had given me such wise, fatherly advice. Once the craziness of summer dwindled down and the dust had settled, I found myself…well by myself
Most recently, my other previous roommate and last standing childhood friend made the move back to Ohio. The most obvious solution would be to follow suite and head back to my old stomping grounds along with the rest of them. However, I have this nagging desire for freedom and independence that conflicts with moving back in with mom and dad.
So what is the solution? Well, I am not really sure. I do know situations such as this force one to dive deep within themselves to find the strength to stand on their own. It is a lot scarier than living with best friends and having a steady boyfriend. Yet it is also incredibly liberating knowing I have nothing to lose at this stage in my life. One thing is for certain: strong social connections account for a good chunk of a human’s happiness. Regardless of how strong and independent I attempt to be, I know I need the support of others to be truly fulfilled. The challenge now is finding where that support will come from now that its previous sources are no longer there.