on community: choosing two-way streets.

Today’s writer is one of my favorites – actually, she’s The BFF, so she’s hands down a super-duper favorite.  We ALL THE TIME talk about community and friendship, and what it means for a couple of extroverts like ourselves to embrace the present and move on.  Enjoy her words, friends…  

Nash-vegas, 2012.
The Nashville strip, November 2012.

What is so scary about having someone—inadvertently—communicate that they don’t have time for you? Why do I take that personally or somehow presume that it has anything to do with my character?

Here’s the thing: when people are too busy or can’t make a regular commitment or never return your calls; it doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong or that you’re personally flawed. It’s not you. They are busy. They have other friends. They might be going through hell right now and you have no idea.

It wasn’t until I moved to the Southern metropolis of Nashville that I really began to see that sometimes it’s okay for people to say, “We’d love to have you over for dinner,” and not really have any intention of following through with it. In my 20s, this would have killed me. Now, in my 30s, I realize that when someone says that, they’re really saying something more like, “You seem nice; someday I hope we might get to know each other more.”

How, how, how then do we build real community? Right now. With the people that want it.

Do a quick check of who returns your calls/emails/texts or–here is a profound thought–who proactively calls/emails/texts you. It won’t be very many people, I promise. This is not the same list of people who “like” all your photos on Facebook. This isn’t the same list of people who attended your wedding. This isn’t the same list of people that are in your small group or book club. This is like four or five people max; you like them; they like you.

Make the list. Figure out the next time you can connect with them, whether it be phone, note, face-to-face time, etc. Do it. If it’s fun and encouraging and both parties have a good time, repeat. If you find that someone isn’t making any effort in return, don’t continue to reach out. Make time for the people with whom community and support and friendship are a two-way street. The others–those one-way folks–will leave you feeling sad, a little empty and possibly used.

I have a few of these now; these people that are in my community on whom I can lean. They are not glamorous. They have issues. Sometimes they have to reschedule. But, they love me. They love my husband and my child. They make time for me. They send me notes to check in and see how I’m doing without first being prompted by me. They don’t make me feel like I have to work at the relationship. It’s just natural. And we laugh! And freak out! And text funny jokes!

And there are only a few of them.

Truthfully, I want Mindy to go on.  I want to keep reading her thoughts – but that, I suppose, is the irony of the conversation and the topic of community altogether: sometimes that’s it.  It’s over and done with, so accept it and move on.  What about you?  What do you think about what she just had to say?  Leave a comment for our friend here!  

14 thoughts on “on community: choosing two-way streets.

  1. More truth. The list of people who actively phone/text/email me WITHOUT ME INITIATING is so short that they can be counted on one hand. In fact, besides my children, I can only think of two people who initiate conversation or propose getting together. I admit I get kind of tired of always being the one who calls or writes or does the inviting, and have considered just stopping. But I get lonely and so I cave. And this was a good reminder that perhaps, perhaps it doesn’t mean they don’t LIKE me. People–as your friend said–are busy.

    1. It’s a hard one to swallow – I’m sure they do LIKE you, Chris, but you’re just not their top priority. It too is hard for me to admit that, especially in being the pursuer as well. So when the tables are turned, I too cave, although I’m learning not to as much. (“as much” being the key phrase of this sentence). …all that to say, I’m in it with you.

      cara meredith carameredith.com

  2. This is such a great topic to write/think about. I have recognized that time with friends (along with exercise, alas) is one of the first things to be sacrificed on the altar of my crazy busy life. This is partly because my friends are flung out all over the Bay Area, and, well, you know how the traffic is. But I’m not proud of it, and I’d like to change it. There is a role our girlfriends play in our lives that no one else can, and we all need it. Thanks for affirming that.

    1. Ginny, having lived in Santa Cruz, on the peninsula and in the city, I can say that it’s so, so hard to keep up with people who are really only 30 miles ahead. It feels worlds apart, so even when/if I feel like I’m making a pretty huge effort, it may not be the same for someone else. This is good …but it’s hard.

      Cara Meredith Courtesy of her iPhone

  3. Wow!!! I really needed to hear this! It made me exhale- didn’t realize I was holding my breath on the topic!;) Your BFF is very wise.

  4. @Chris Here is my additional thought: sit in that loneliness a little bit and see what comes up for you. This is my worst, most terrifying place to sit, but –and I am more convinced of this than ever–I propose that the fear of loneliness is actually unfounded. For me, it’s a fear of knowing myself. Sitting with Mindy. Loving and accepting what’s actually there inside me. Jump off the cliff; give it a try.

  5. I am a HUGE proponent of the two-way street relationship outlook. I don’t know if my parents cultivated it early or what, but this was why I was lucky enough to (mostly) go through my teens and college years without crushing on boys that didn’t like me back LOL. Like I said about Cara’s FB post, life is just too short. It’s really nice growing into adulthood and growing the backbone needed to not let oneself feel used (however minor) by those who don’t meet halfway. We all have at least one person, and probably more, in our lives that will go more than halfway to meet us, and I try hard to be a committed friend to them. They are making the effort, and I appreciate it.

    Great post, Mindy!

    1. I feel like I’m just now developing this backbone, just now realizing that not everyone is going to be my best friend (and vice-versa). What a GIFT for your parents to teach and show you that at a young age – makes me wonder how we can do the same for Cancan!

      cara meredith carameredith.com

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