Lately, I have been half-lamenting my lack of deeper connections. I have been craving to find that elusive spot where I can safely express my fears and insecurities, navigate my confusions and expose my vulnerabilities with neither judgment nor false comfort.
It has been more than two years since we expatriated, leaving the home, people, and career I knew. One exciting thing about this adventure is the gift of starting over; in the same vein, it can be a mild curse.
Familiarity breeds ease. There is something oddly comforting about seeing a familiar face, one that has known me and the evolving versions of me over the years. I can untangle the mess in my head while laughing, crying, eating way too much sugar, and then feeling better again. Our hearts and souls need another. All too clearly, I am acknowledging this innate need to connect. After all, we are humans who have always been wired to become tribal.
But being an expat has made me question my level of extroversion. While I know that I need to put myself out there, I seesaw between being brave and being guarded. I take U-turns and resort to delaying tactics. I make a fair number of friends, but somehow still fail to connect in a deeper and more authentic way.
I would like to think that I remain passionately curious about people; I am energized even by some quiet smiles and the smallest of sincere talks. But I find myself hesitating to go further, tread farther, and push beyond the discomfiting beginnings of building a deep foundation.
A seasoned expat living in his or her nth country will probably know this too well. Authentic and deep connections require a substantial investment of time and emotions. And sometimes, even after spending a lot of time and emotions, the place of deeper connection may still be a stretch.
I had my excuses, which I believe to be valid. Becoming a new mother is isolating. The job of raising a newborn comes with an unimaginable amount of solitude, day in and day out. The demands of raising a healthy child can drain all the physical, emotional and mental energy plus more, while creating a kind of happiness that is never before known.
But now that my baby is more than a year old, this excuse slowly fades into oblivion. I am only faced with the daunting call to reach out, to open up, to try.
My soul is hungry for moments of bonding, the raw and unedited joy of baring my heart to another. My husband is my best friend and is my safest place. (But sometimes, I know he would rather check his team’s standing in Fantasy Football.)
I know that wherever I am in the world, I am surrounded by incredible people who can inspire me to be kinder, gentler, and better. I will have to dare myself to be out there in the arena as Brene Brown would say. Ultimately, I have to be that kind of person who can also inspire another.
I will have to try and keep trying.