Connections are the ties that bind. I heard that somewhere.
Sometimes the act of connecting seems to be more trouble than it’s worth though. Ever turn down a social invitation just so you could stay at home and do absolutely nothing? If you’re like me, it happens more often than not.
Outside of the few “people people” that live in gingerbread houses just this side of lollipop land, most of us are social when we need to be. It’s not that we’re not nice. I’d give you the little black jacket off my back if you needed it – just don’t make me sit down for small talk about the weather first.
Some of us are better at being alone. I personally find house plants easier to be around than people. Baby steps for some of us.*
There’s a movie called 28 Days with Sandra Bullock and Alan Tudyk, the latter plays a character named Gerhardt, about recovering addicts. One of the best scene takes place in a plant store with the distraught Gerhardt attempting to return a dead plant. You see, his rehabilitation included being able to take care of a plant and then a pet before he could have a relationship. As he’s trying to explain to an indifferent clerk why the plant can’t possibly be dead he utters, “I’ll never get laid.”
Maybe this should be a thing for some of us. Not the getting laid part, which should also probably be a thing for some of us, but keeping a ficus from turning brown before we’re thrown into an office holiday party. Learning to interact with other living things incrementally and at our own pace. Maybe a nice certificate at the end.
Or, you could just get a cactus – or a cat – since they pretty much take care of themselves and jump right in.
Regardless of the path taken, or the personality type the therapist assigns, it can sometimes be difficult to find pants to put on when we get that text from a friend.
Here are some hopefully inspirational reasons and reminders of why we should socialize:
5. PERSPECTIVE so you can feel better about yourself and your life. Whatever you’re going through someone you know probably has it worse. I would recommend the empathetic approach, but if you’ll feel just as good with a superior outlook when you walk away then who am I to judge?
4. YOU MAY NEED SOMETHING SOMEDAY. You never know when you may need help moving, a ride to the airport, a cup of sugar. There was a time when we relied on each other. Now we have Amazon. Still, it’s good to know that there are people you can call at three o’clock in the morning in a time of need that will still answer your texts two days later.
3. INPUT. How else will you be able to know the best way to cook pasta, or whether you’re disciplining your children correctly, or how you should feel about [insert current crisis here]? You can’t find EVERYTHING on the internet. Allow people to tell you what to do on occasion. You may actually learn something new or at the very least it’s a reminder of what crack pots some people are. Either way, it makes the other person feel better to spew their insightful babble and that’s got to be worth some karmic points. Plus, if they’re wrong you can feel better about taking the superior judgmental approach (see #5).
2. PRIMATE LAW. We’re basically a social animal so it’s just weird if you don’t do it. No need to pick mites off your co-workers head, but a cup of coffee probably wouldn’t kill you. If social convention isn’t enough motivation then let me word it a different way: loneliness is an unforgiving bitch. The need to interact with others is universal at some level for all of us. Which brings us to reason number one…
1. PROTECT YOUR HEALTH. Social interactions can help prevent a whole slew of physical and mental health issues. I’d quote some of the research here, but that takes time and would have forced me to interact on some social level with others away from my keyboard.
So, accept that guys’/girls’ night out invitation, take a friend or relative to lunch, or join that RoboCop Impersonation Fight Club Meetup you’ve been meaning to connect with.
Just get out there.
*My ability to keep houseplants alive coincided with long term relationships. (I almost killed by wife’s dog when we were first dating, but that’s another story and probably irrelevant.) Maybe the houseplants were just strong-willed or maybe it was coincidence. In any case, I’m proud of the two plants I have managed to keep alive for several years now and I’m fairly certain they’re equally happy with the arrangement. You’ll have to ask my wife about her level of happiness. I can’t speak for everyone.