We don’t have to do it alone. We were never meant to. – Brené Brown.
When I left my corporate job in June of 2009 it was for some very practical reasons. My husband and I made the decision that I wouldn’t return to work after the birth of our second baby, and it largely revolved around schedules, finances, and logistics. I didn’t know who Brené Brown was at the time, I’d never heard the quote above, and it never occurred to the 28-year-old me that I should think about the emotional toll of this huge life decision.
Amongst the many struggles of suddenly not having a professional/paid job outside of my house and finding myself the primary caregiver to a newborn and 16-month-old, there was something else…something intangible that I didn’t understand and couldn’t put my finger on. Still, it felt like it was eating me alive. I needed people. I needed to see and be seen. I wasn’t meant to do this alone.
It took many years, and a lot of soul searching to understand where all of these feelings were coming from, why I felt like I was floundering and unable to catch my breath. Why I felt so terribly disconnected from who I used to be. Yes, there are so many transitions that occur when you go from being single or a couple to becoming parents. There are so many ways in which the things that used to be normal or expected get turned upside down. And I was entirely unprepared for much of this emotional learning curve.
When I finally realized that it was the sense of community, camaraderie, togetherness that I missed – the person I had been, the interactions, the validation, the tangible and intangible aspects of being around people – everything suddenly made sense! My feelings made sense, my sadness made sense, my intense cravings for SOMETHING made sense. I wasn’t meant to do this alone.
It’s not always easy, and the details are a topic for another post, but proactively creating and working to maintain connections with like-minded friends was truly my lifeline during that period. I realized what I needed and became keenly aware that I had to ask for it, create it, and then care for it. The ability to find and create community has been instrumental in my personal and professional development…and right now, at this strange moment in time, I am feeling incredibly grateful for what I’ve created.
In many ways, I feel blessed for those struggles from a decade ago. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was expecting those feelings from years ago to resurface, but I was very VERY quick to recognize them. In a world where we no longer leave our homes and don’t share physical space, there are so many unfamiliar feelings emerging… some of them make sense – fear, uncertainty, overwhelm – and some of them just feel stuck, without words to properly convey.
Those unnamed feelings, for me, at least, come from needing to be around and engage with people. Needing to share and be heard and to listen to others. Needing to feel like I am part of something. There is also an emotional learning curve to this new normal we’ve been forced into, and I feel overwhelming gratitude that (aside from hugs from friends), I still have all of this.
Friends, take the deliberate steps to create the community you need! The community where you feel safe and encouraged, the community where you can rely on others, a community where you can feel like YOU! If you don’t already have that, find it, or create it – post on Facebook or your social media of choice, “Who wants to have a virtual coffee date tomorrow?” Create what you need and include others.
We weren’t meant to do this alone, and in this moment of vast technology, we don’t have to.