Social Connections for Now and Later

Guest Contributor: Emily Shafenberg

There are so many different types of people out there, ranges of emotions, big and small personalities, young and old, but the big commonality is we are all seeking to make connections. When you stop and look at connections and how they are made, you can really see what kind of person you are and what kind of person you could be with the right connections. When I started writing this blog post we were in a different way of life. When things changed a few weeks ago and life seemed to go on pause, I decided I wanted to change my perspective on what I should write. I have a lot of kids and one of my biggest concerns is that they don’t lose their social lives right now. This is a huge part of our identities. Knowing yourself is very important and a big part of relationships. What do you need? What are you looking for in your relationships and connections with others?

Today it is a little more difficult to make meaningful connections. I am a very social person. I like to chat with people in the grocery store, I love to text and talk on the phone with friends and I love being at my children’s school so I can make connections with their teachers. Right now, I can’t do many of those things, so I have been working on ways I can still be social while trying to stay spatially socially distant. A big part of this new normal is the range of emotions we all are feeling. There are feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, loneliness, sadness…but there are also feelings of joy, happiness, purpose, and positivity.

Last week I was feeling pretty down. I was irritated with my kids, I was feeling sad and lonely, even surrounded by my family. I had seen posts on social media about all of these fabulous things people were doing to have fun at home and doing home schooling and it just made me feel even worse. Social media can sometimes make you feel even more unsocial then you already do. Longing for some connections but ultimately feeling a disconnect from how amazing other people’s lives are. I decided that I needed to repurpose how I used/viewed social media. I needed to be more of a contributor rather than a scroller. I know you know what I mean. Logging into Instagram or Facebook and just perusing your “friends” posts. Giving an occasional like but really not engaged in relationships with any of these “friends.” So, I decided I would start commenting more, even posting a little more and really investing in these relationships.

Ultimately, I was brave enough to share my own musical talents by playing the piano and sharing the video. It felt good to put myself out there and to be part of something. Find a new social you. Don’t compare yourself to the other posts, share who you are, contribute to others’ lives with little gems of your own. You may be surprised how much differently you look at social media.

There are other ways to connect too that may not be the norm but ways you can still be you. We decided to do some things for other people. We went on a family walk and wrote notes of positivity along the path. Some were silly, while others were as simple as “we love you.” We felt good being outside, we were happy to write happy things and later we saw smiles from people who saw our chalk art.

It was simple and easy, beyond that, it brought us closer to others. We found connections with neighbors who posted on NextDoor, we saw smiles from passersby as we walked back over our drawings, we told our family and they all enjoyed the fun too.

Our next adventure took us to delivering “Crumbl” cookies to our friends. We picked 8 random homes of people we know and set cookies on their doorstep and backed away a safe distance. We had so missed these people and we were able to chat from a distance and see this little treat brighten up their day. We were strengthening our connections with our friends.

As we have continued to find a new norm, we are still striving to make social connections with our friends and neighbors. We have learned all about Zoom meetings, group FaceTime calls and games over the internet. It takes a special motivation to still keep those friendships and relationships strong. Being involved in the conversation, suggesting and planning Zoom calls with friends or teachers, you have to be part of the process. Realizing you have to do your part will help with making connections and having good relationships.

After this time passes and we return to what we know as normal, I am buying a plane ticket and going to visit by best friend Mindy in Utah. We have been best friends for 15 years, she’s met every one of my 8 babies at birth, she has supported me through trials and shared happy times, we have both moved a few times and now we live 500 miles apart. The relationship we have developed has made us both stronger as moms and wives and people. That’s the best part of any relationship, how it makes you a better person. Put in the time, find new ways to connect with people around you and realize there are so many ways for you to find your social connections and good relationships.

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