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Back in the day, I would listen to podcast after podcast about postpartum depression. I wanted to know the signs, yes, and also confirm that parenthood or motherhood not being easy was normal. It didn’t make me a bad person.
But, one thing that came up often (and always drove me crazy) was – You aren’t in it alone. It takes a village. Lean on your support network...
At the time, Joe was finishing up grad school, working on his dissertation, teaching at the college, working with the boy scouts… There were campouts and robotics tournaments, and he was gone much of the time. We lived several hours away from family, and we were in the process of moving, so I had to pack and clean and nurse and watch the toddler all on my own. And I worked all through my pregnancy with my son, so I didn’t have hours or days off to prepare.
To be fair, many people come to mind that I’m incredibly grateful for, and Joe would take Rosie to school sometimes, and my mom made the long drive more than a few times.
I wasn’t completely alone, but I just remember thinking – Yeah! I know it takes a village! But where is mine? How do I find a village? Where do I sign up?!
So, that’s the place where we’re coming from today.
And, actually, I’ve mentioned the Famous at Home Podcast before. I submitted this question to them once and Josh and Christi answered it with an entire episode, and some really great points!!
But, now that I’m not in the thick of it, we have a few pointers of our own, and I really think it falls under our affirmation this month, because sometimes it can be especially vulnerable and daring to make friends and find your village.
#1: Don’t expect your village to come to you.
We all have our own systems – where we take the kids to play, or where we go when we’re not with them. We might attend classes at church or school and get in and out quickly to skip the small talk. Maybe it’s breakfast, work, bed on repeat…
We each find the rhythms that work for us, but sometimes, adding variety and new situations can help us to mix things up and meet new people:
- Go for a walk in your neighborhood.
- Take a fitness class.
- Visit with the people you see at the park.
- Talk to someone new on your lunch break at work.
- Stay after the “main event” to chat when you can.
- Invite new neighbors over for a treat night.
- Visit your local library or museums.
The more unique situations you put yourself in, the more people you meet. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you have to connect.
It also helps me to remember – you’re not the only one waiting for an invitation! (Thank you, Danielle Davis!)
If you are feeling vulnerable and lonely, there’s a good chance that someone else within your sphere of influence is, too.
#2: Start with Quantity.
So often, we want those deeper friendships and deeper connections. I’ve always been the kind of person who wants that one trusted friend that I can be myself with, versus several acquaintances, or being the social butterfly.
But, over the years, I’ve learned that quantity begets quality.
In her book, Daring Greatly (😉), Brene Brown talks about how vulnerability is not oversharing. She explains that oversharing is actually a defense mechanism we use either because we are afraid, or we haven’t put in the time to build the necessary trust.
Oversharing is my awkward life calling, you guys, haha!
I overshare when I’m nervous, but, also, when I’m impatient, and sometimes lonely. I try to hot-wire those deep connections without putting in the time to build that trust first.
In fact, I remember once when I was still coming out of postpartum depression sharing every difficult and conflicting feeling that I had about motherhood with a new acquaintance at our first park date, and afterward there was this pause, like – oh, were we on that level? Haha.
Now, some people are ready for that and reciprocate diving deep sooner than others, and relationships do recover from those awkward moments, too, but, the point is: to get to those people or those moments that light us up, we must put ourselves out there, make introductions, learn how to read people, and recognize that trust can’t be hot-wired.
#3: It’s not personal.
At some point, we all go through a narrowing down process to determine who we mesh with and what needs must be met in a given relationship.
I have unique strengths and weaknesses and quirks that are different from my spouse’s, or our neighbors and friends. Sometimes, they fit together really well, sometimes they require different levels of effort.
Often, we tend to gravitate toward the people it’s easy to talk with, whether because those things line up in just the right ways, or because you have a similar sense of humor, or because your extroversion and introversion levels balance each other out, or because of where you grew up, or the first job you ever had, or timing, etc…
Ultimately, some people light us up more than others and the same goes for the friendships that we are investing in or trying to make a reality.
If someone doesn’t reciprocate an invitation or a level of trust or a desire to deepen that connection – remember, you know who you are. It isn’t personal.
Eventually, there will be those people who will resonate with what you have to share and who you want to be, so keep meeting new people, keep having awkward conversations, and assume the best!
#4: When Lightning Strikes – ACT.
One other thing I’ve been practicing is that, when I get a thought – Oh this reminds me of so-and-so, I should send her a picture. Or, I haven’t talked to so-and-so in a while, I’d love to get in touch. Or, Maybe I’ll go across the street and see what everyone is up to. – I try to act on it instead of letting it just be a “nice thought”.
Sometimes it’s simple, sometimes it’s not, or I’m not feeling very brave at least, but the more I act on those thoughts, the easier it gets and the more courageous I feel.
Never suppress a generous thought.”Camilla E. Campbell
Also, because we are essentially virtual right now, I’ve made a lot of connections this way with many people that I haven’t met in person.
I want them to be more than just a comment or a DM, and when it feels like a good fit or the idea strikes, I face my fears and I ask – hey, would you like to connect on Marco Polo? And I have been turned down before, or it’s just fizzled out, but I’ve also met a couple of really amazing friends and women who I look up to, who laugh with me, who I can send a video to in my pajamas and ask for advice or just to chat with.
Honestly, those friendships just came from following through, and I’m so thankful for them.
I’ve met neighbors this way – taking cookie, or just sitting and talking across the yard, saying, “Hi”, or asking about someone’s day.
I even started a Facebook group for homeschoolers in our area because I’m just starting out and wanted to know what works for other moms and kids, and I wanted my kids to make friends with people who would be home during the day, which that led to a standing park date! In the middle of nowhere! This is a huge deal, you guys! Haha!
And I am NOT an outgoing person. You can ask Joe.
But I battle that insecurity when I STOP suppressing those generous thoughts. We get so used to quieting them, because we are afraid of the reaction, or rejection. But, if we stop doing that, even if it takes just 5 seconds of a brave moment, the more doable leaving our comfort zones and meeting new people becomes.
Yes, we still get rejected once in a while. But sometimes you don’t get rejected! And those times have proven to be worth it for me.
One-Liner: The more you put yourself out there, the closer you’ll get to finding your people.
Journal Prompt: We talked about leaving your comfort zone, and never suppressing a generous thought. For our journal prompt today, we want you to make a list of those thoughts or ideas as they come up, and then you have a bucket list, of sorts, that you can follow through on. You might not be able to fit all of them in, but try, at least once a week to do something new, outside of your normal routine or your comfort zone.
❤ Jenny and Joe