Walking through any store with the twins in my cart has always been a guaranteed attention grabber. I get stopped multiple times by moms and grandmas, as well as the occasional grandpa, that always say how precious they are. Enter Lia into that picture and I’ve got a show-stopping crew.
As the twins have grown, they have learned to love these outings. They see getting out of the house and going anywhere as an adventure, and they love seeing other people. Eve, the more outgoing of the twins, has reached the hearts of many by walking right up to them and saying hello. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “How sweet. She just made my day!”
A couple months ago I decided to turn this into a game. I asked the girls to smile and say hi to as many people as they could and to count how many smiled back. Our only goal was to bring happiness to someone else.
As I was driving home that day, I realized that this mindset could be life changing. For me, anyway.
For one reason or another, I’ve lost sight of the importance of the kind smile and friendly hello. Sometimes I’m in too big of a rush to take the time to notice the people that pass me by. Sometimes I’m too comfortable in my own introverted bubble to break out of it. I’ll smile politely at people but my motivation is not to initiate a meaningful encounter; it’s to be polite.
Perhaps it’s the reality of having three kids ages three and under, but I’ve become rather isolated in my day-to-day life. About a year ago I began to realize just how much I needed meaningful relationships, and I realized I had to take the initiative. I started to truly try to break out of my bubble and reach into the lives of other people. But the kind of genuine, lasting friendships I seek do not develop overnight. At least not normally, and especially not for introverted people like me.
Also about a year ago, some life changes carried my family to a new church and we immediately sought the opportunity to connect with other people. We joined a Community Group and it has been salve to my soul. But it’s just a beginning.
With my twins now in preschool, I also have the opportunity to connect with other moms. I arrive 10-15 minutes early on the days I pick up Eve and Vera just so I can chat with some of the other waiting moms. Because this is how connections are made, however slowly it may start. It is a step.
I tend to be self motivated and very determined to accomplish the goals I set for myself. It is a great trait because it helps me accomplish a lot in a day. It is also a terrible trait because I sometimes let this inner drive to check items of my to-do list prevent me from slowing down enough to really see the people around me. I don’t want to just pass by with the polite smile and nod. I want to see their hearts, to understand where they’ve come from and where they want to go, to learn what makes them tick and what makes them laugh.
I used to think that sitting around and talking for an afternoon was wasting time. I prefered to talk while doing something, not while doing nothing. And though I still love taking walks with a friend and chatting along the way, I’ve come to learn that sometimes you have to forfeit the walk but you do not have to forfeit the chat. In fact, you shouldn’t forfeit the chat.
I’m thankful for this experience, because it took me feeling isolated and alone to really see the value in having a true friend – the kind of friend that is just as invested in me as I am in them. It taught me that sometimes I have to invest first, and that’s OK. I will probably always lean toward being introverted and I may be content with having just a few meaningful conversations a week, and that, too, is OK. Because I’ve learned to see both the heartfelt chat with a close friend and the genuine smile to a stranger as meaningful connections.
Different, yes, but meaningful.
So, help a girl out here and share some tips with me. How do you connect to other people?