Life really is sweet at the moment. I’ve sort of come out the tail end of a bit of a rough patch where a bit of processing had to happen. Part of that rough patch was having to write three fairly substantial essays due within days of each other. This week was at the top of my list of stuff to look forward to, as I have no lectures or anything, plus I turn 21 on Friday!!! Having chosen to ditch the coach ticket I had booked for Thursday, in order to just stay the weekend, I decided fairly last-minute to come on Monday, meaning I have a whole week of birthday awesomeness. As if he first 24 hours of being back on home turf hasn’t been epic enough (to me, epic means long, soul-searching conversations with the Mothership, cuddling my cat who bizarrely reminds me of a bumble bee, eating home-made flapjacks, and other really hardcore introvert stuff), I still have two evenings catching up with friends lined up, plus the birthday shenanigans themselves, which involve awesome foodage, laughter, and being with the people who make my world my world. Cheesy, but true…
…I seem to be going through this thing where things are falling into place in a way hey have never done so before. This sort of thing for me usually comes after a time of disillusionment. And this time was no different. Now I’ve known this for a long time, but tonight, at the launch of a new era for the young adults ministry at my awesome church, the purpose of my life became clearer and more defined. As one of the leaders so genuinely and authentically shared a message which totally resonated with my own experiences and battles that I fought for about 7 years. Basically my whole teenagerhood and young adulthood up until fairly recently.
Here’s the thing that breaks my heart and makes my blood boil:
That complicated, slippery phenomenon that silences people and keeps them in an invisible prison cell, which is an epidemic in this beautiful island nation of ours. As a nation, we are starved of real, heart connection with our fellow human beings. I see it everywhere I go. I see it in the eyes of the brave single mother on the school run. I see it in the eyes of the greasy-haired man on the bus who smells of stale beer. I see it in the eyes of the high school students who are haunted by peer pressure from their equals, and heaped with pressure to achieve and conform from those over them. I see it in the eyes of check-out assistants in Asda, and my fellow uni students. People who are lost in the crowd, people nobody really knows. I mean REALLY knows.
I know because I was there.
My heart breaks for people who have bottled up all their pain deep inside and are being all British on the outside, so nobody would guess – because I was those people and still am at times. I wish I could be everywhere at once, with a megaphone to shout to everyone I see, “you are not alone!”
You see, these days, everybody’s rushing around. We are constantly on the move, and nobody really stays put. People move on and there’s so many crowds of people that pass through our lives on a day to day basis. People we become casually acquainted with, but we and them are just too busy and overwhelmed with life to really connect. Our lives are compartmentalised into all our separate activities, like we have many lives rolled into one. I know mine is. Here’s a list of all my compartments and sub-compartments:
- Uni: -People I casually say hi to in lectures
-Christian Union people – a few friends, but a constant flow of new introductions
- Hope City Church: -Students
- Audacious Church: -Close friends
-Constant stream of new people
- Old college mates
- Extended family in both London and Ireland
I know so may people that it’s probably nearly into the thousands if you count all the people I’ve ever had a conversation with, and known as acquaintances. And as I move into the world of work, that’s only going to increase. Because of our busy-ness, we have to shut off emotionally in order to simply get stuff done. Thing is, I don’t want that for my future. If I fully follow the path that uni is taking me down, I’ll probably lose myself in a career and forget to live. But that’s another tangent altogether.
I was talking about this whole thing tonight with some ladies I’d just met, and one of them was saying that she often feels disconnected because of a thing about not wanting to be a burden on other people. I believe this is quite key. We like to appear to each other like we are in control, and are perfectly self-sufficient. We don’t like the idea of being needy. But the very people who you are trying to protect from your own need for belonging are probably protecting you from theirs! I have discovered this for myself on so many levels it’s unreal.
Loneliness happens in the most unexpected circumstances. especially in crowds. Those of us who are quiet and gentle fade into the shadows, smiling or nodding politely, laughing in all the right places, at large dinners, group outings, and our hearts are so full. We take in our surroundings in the minutest detail, our perceptions internalised, marinaded and processed in the deep places where nobody hears or sees. If we had the chance, the time and the space which is so scarce that it must be rationed minute by minute, we would open up, and reveal our hidden passion and zest for life – our unique insights and the things that stir us up and make us come alive. These pale, subtle colours in the tapestry can only be seen properly if you focus and take a closer look. That is why I’m compelled to action when I see that person on the sidelines who is observing everything. heir eyes are darting around the room taking it all in. I see myself in that person. In the young woman who’s shoulders are hunched forward, arms folded close to her chest, as if protecting or concealing some treasure. That’s why too much small talk drains me emotionally. When I talk to these people, I am inspired by their courage, endurance and constancy. They are so brave! Their stories are gripping and touching at the same time.
I just want to say that I love extroverts as well. We need you guys. Some of my closest friends are the most outgoing people I know, and they bring out the best in me. You know who you are!
When I felt the most isolated and hidden, I thought my world was falling apart. I literally thought isolation would be a permanent mark on my life. And how right I was. It did leave a mark. But not in the way I thought it would. Because I believe in a God who is like one of those hipsters who like to retrieve rubbish and turn it into some trendy, retro, vintage piece, whose rustic nature adds to its appeal.
I now have the most amazing, fulfilling friendships anybody could ask for, and were so worth the wait.
Whatever pile of crap you are going through, it could literally turn into the very thing that will be used to create an impact in your world.
Ok, so this has been a pretty long and drawn out blog type thing…it’s just something has majorly switched on for me recently…
coming of age and all that…