Lately the landscape of my mothering has been much less manicured and mostly messy. My life is a constant ebb and flow of laundry-dinner-dishes on a steady cycle of eat-wash-repeat. This lifestyle might not be glamorous, but it is important.
I stood in front of the mirror this morning and thought to myself – mothering is the one of the few things that I can say I’ve done consistently for the last six years. I have poured my entire heart, soul, mind and strength into growing my little people. I haven’t done it perfectly, but I have done it wholly.
There is one thing though that most of us don’t like to talk about. Mothering can be really lonely. It’s this strange dichotomy of constantly being with someone and also feeling isolated. I think we all experience this type of realization at some point. It is that feeling you get when you are in a crowd, yet something pricks at your heart reminding you of how unseen you actually feel.
All of our stories are different, but there is one thing that I can guarantee binds us together: Love. We all want to love and be loved. There is nothing new or trendy about it. We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to belong.
That is why community is one of our greatest gifts. It’s our fight song against the lonely lie that we are somehow better off alone. Sometimes the journey into community happens easily, but other times it can be a rocky endeavor. It takes bravery and openness to keep showing up for each other, especially if someone in the tribe causes pain. In this big, messy adventure that is community, eventually you will get hurt and will cause wounds of your own. No one is perfect and working through the mess together is part of what helps us grow.
There is no secret formula to finding “your people.” I wish it were as simple as plugging in coordinates into a phone app that would magically lead you to your village. This whole business of finding friends in real life is much more complicated than a quick click and “like” answer. However, I do believe there are some practical ways we can rage against the loneliness:
Take advantage of the opportunities around you to communicate with others. I realize all the introverts reading this may have just shuddered, but I am simply suggesting that you push yourself a little outside of your comfort bubble.
Notice Common Threads.
Observe the people around you and risk the awkwardness to find a friend. Chances are maybe that person sitting next to you at the park watching their kids play, could very well be just as lonely as you are. Look for similarities; you both have the same stroller, you’re reading the same book, your kids are about the same age and use this common ground as a launching point for conversation.
Never Underestimate Kindness.
I think we easily forget how truly dazzling kindness can be, especially when it’s unexpected. Drop off cookies on your neighbor’s porch, pay someone a compliment or call a friend who you haven’t spoken with in a while – just to see how they are really doing. These little acts of kindness often speak louder than we realize and open the doors for deeper connection.
There is a real difference between being nervous and being straight up phony. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It’s much easier to share your story with others when you speak from your heart. Remember the wisdom from Dr. Seuss: “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
None of these suggestions are a universal fix for friend finding, they are just prompts to help you get the conversation going. Loneliness is traumatic to the human spirit. When I think about the way relationships start to unravel, I wonder if loneliness was the first subtle symptom to so many of our problems today.
So let’s be detectives in our communities who carefully assess the evidence, and act on those first nearly undetectable symptoms of isolation. Let’s be the freedom fighters who are known for the bridges we build and efforts we make to link our hearts together. A tribe is built one person at a time and I believe that if we all took the time to genuinely see the people around us, we wouldn’t just have a village – we’d have a community of people who felt cherished and truly known.
Asha Grinnell is a lover of adventure, family dance parties, and spending time by the sea. She is married to the man of her dreams and a mama to two little darlings who keep her on her knees and her toes. Follow her at onlytruenorth.com