The Need to Rely on Others

Steady….. steady….. can we take the picture now?!

Something I thought about as I prepared to leave for Europe and while I was out roaming the streets of cities was that I was not able to take the trip based only on my own efforts. There were many people who helped me go without worrying about my normal responsibilities. I think of my roommates who watched the house, kept it clean, and cut the grass; of my mom who kept in touch with me and checked my mail to let me know about bills I (still) needed to pay; of my coworkers who had to really step it up in my absence and sit in more meetings than they imagined (I’ve heard there may be a greater appreciation for my role now); of people at church who covered for my role there as well.

Without so many hands supporting me back home, going away for a month may have never happened or have been as refreshing to my soul. Which brings me to a larger topic. Whether or not I want to admit it, I need to rely on others to live my life. No matter how independent I think I am or want to be, I will never be able to do everything by myself. This important fact became very obvious to me while away. I admit that I need others for all sorts of things including life advice, help moving heavy furniture, determining what color shade something is, or simply someone to hang out with and talk to once in a while.

As I mentioned in a previous post about depth of relationship, not having the ability to communicate with those around me illuminated how being connected to my fellow man (or not due to language barriers) can make you feel isolated. Even for this introverted writer, my independence and time separated from people I know has its useful limits. How I find the right mix of staying connected and forging stronger relationships while not overwhelming my introverted self is something I’m working on. Let’s hope I can stay on the balance beam most of the time.


Depth of Relationship

How far are you willing to go?

While I’ve been traveling, I have been very restricted with the amount of conversation I’m able to have with people I come into contact with. You come to find even the random banter you occasionally have with the barista at Starbucks or waiter at your local restaurant isn’t exactly possible because you’re pointing at signs and pictures to communicate. Thankfully, many people across Europe know enough English to deal with Americans like me who can’t grasp other languages very easily. Yet, this whole experience got me thinking to a topic I’ve been dealing with for a bit longer: depth of relationships.

Now, I will concede that everyone has their own ways to measuring how deep their relationships are with the people they know so measure how you will. As an introvert, (INFP for those curious), I value my personal relationships profoundly and I find enjoyment in them when they can jump from one extreme (“I need to talk about this potentially life changing decision”) to the other (“weren’t the chase scenes in Fast Five ridiculously unbelievable, but fun to watch?”).

One thing I’ve missed in the last 3 weeks, and perhaps much longer, is that I’m not consistently able to have the “life changing decision” conversations nearly as often as the ones about Fast Five. People aren’t as willing to go past the surface into areas that may be uncomfortable or expose any part of our true selves. It’s easy to put up a front. We all do it to varying degrees. But we also find it easy to discuss things of no consequence because it doesn’t personally challenge us in any way. There’s no intellectual or personal benefit, but that’s OK because it’s like we’re conversing, but nothing is actually being said.

It’s good to go deeper once in a while. Ask your friends what excites them. Find out why a certain TV show appeals to them. (Maybe it will reveal something about them far more fascinating than the show itself.) Ask questions of people who you don’t always agree with and get more information instead of avoiding the topic. At least you’ll understand why you disagree instead of just avoiding that topic or worse, that person. Besides, these conversations make life a lot more interesting when you look back at it.

How far are you willing to go down that path? Will you walk past that well lit park bench that you can see from where you’re standing? Or will you venture down the path together beyond the horizon, where unknown, but profound, adventures and depth await?