I’m an introvert. I love spending time alone and don’t tolerate consistent loud noise and super busy days very well. But after I quit my full-time job to stay home with my two young children, I was surprised to find that the lack of daily contact with other adults made me feel lonely and isolated. I tried followed the typical advice on how to connect with other moms, joining moms groups and taking my kids to play centres and organized activities. But it was difficult taking two toddlers out of the house and so those things just drained my energy. I was left wondering why I even bothered.
So, I signed up for Facebook.
I know there is a lot of negativity out there with regards to social media and how we, as a society, are spending too much time glued to our screens. I’ve also read many articles on the inherent dangers of this type of culture. But for me, social media was a sanity-saver. At a time when I felt cut-off from the rest of the world, it opened the door to connect with others.
Now, my kids are older and I’ve found a some more ways to connect with people. Here are a few practical ideas that have worked well for me:
Get Out Of The Car. Dropping off or picking your kids up at school? Get out of the car. Picking up a coffee? Instead of using drive-thru, park your car and go in. Need to go somewhere not that far away? Why not walk? You might not get into any deep conversations when you’re out and about, but if you don’t get out of the car it’s pretty much guaranteed you won’t interact with anyone. Even small exchanges about the weather can eventually turn into friendships when you chat with another person on a consistent basis.
Show Up. I know that often the last thing you feel like doing after a long day is going out somewhere. But sometimes if you force yourself to get out of the house, you’ll start to feel better. I find that frequently people don’t bother to go to things they’re invited to; work functions, school events, showers, parties, etc. Suck it up and go. You could even carpool with someone else (bonus points if they don’t really want to go either-shared bond!). You may even surprise yourself and end up having a good time. But you can’t build connections with others if you don’t even show up.
Volunteer. I get it, you’re busy. We’re all busy. But if you can find a little bit of time to help someone else out, it can end up benefiting you a whole lot more than you’d expect. Working toward a common good is a great way to bond with like-minded and caring people. You don’t even have to join an organization. Help out a neighbour or a friend, even in a small way, and you might just get some time to connect with them, too.
Share a meal. Food, more than anything, brings people together. Most gatherings are either food-centered (“Come over for dinner!”) or food-friendly (“Refreshments will be served!”). It’s a great excuse to connect with others. Some of the best conversations you’ll ever have will be with a plate of food in front of you. And if you don’t have time to plan a meal, just invite someone over for coffee. Yes, it takes time, but if you’re seeking to connect with others then make the effort. You’ll happier for it.
Because that’s the key: effort. You’re not ever going to find any meaningful connections without trying. Make the effort, make the time. It might not seem like it when you’re feeling isolated and lonely, but there are others who are looking to connect, too. You just need to get out there and find them.
This blog was written as a link-up to Clear The Way’s “12 Lists Series.” You can read blog posts by other bloggers on the topic of How To Connect With Others on the Blog Hop here.