The summer of 2017 will go down in our family’s history book as the one of massive upheaval and change: new house, new job, new school, new town, thrown in with a dose of career change and a new-ish baby. No big deal. Everyone has been dealing with the change in their own unique ways, for better or for worse. My children, God bless them, have had their fair share of intense squabbles, and I’m trying to be as patient as possible. Everyone has lost a sense of control of their environment, and their stress has been manifesting itself.
I tend to shut down in the midst of too much change. My brain short-circuits and I find myself escaping the massive to-do lists by easier, less intentional activities. I used to allow myself to become absorbed by a good Sudoku. Nowadays, however, it’s been Facebook.
I know it robs too much of my time. I know it messes with my attention span. I know it’s ultimately an avoidance of dealing with my own anxieties, and yet, I am constantly drawn to my sleek phone and that little blue icon.
Lately I’ve found myself wandering rather aimlessly in my home, looking despairingly at unfinished projects and cluttered corners and hearing too many opinions in my head. Too many lists, too much advice, and way too little of my own voice. By mid-morning I've had to fill up my coffee mug yet again to jumpstart myself from the slump, but it has only ended up making me a jittery, irritable grouch.
I’ve been reaching for the phone instead of doing the dishes. I’ve been lingering a little too long reading that insignificant article about that celebrity. Ultimately I’ve been hiding from this one truth: Moving to a new place is lonely.
So I turn to the immediate stimulation. Social media is quick entertainment. It’s distanced relationships. There is no mess and no uncomfortable interaction. There is a sense of control, as I choose what to click and who to follow.
And yet, it’s completely superficial. The mindless scrolling produces so much noise, but so little substance.
Because to have good friends you have to be a good friend. And frankly, I am not good at that. It means I have to put myself out there, I have to say, “Here I am! Here are my flaws and insecurities and my quirks and awkwardness.” It also means I have to listen to the other person, to hear about their own struggles and triumphs, and to put my own story on hold for a few minutes.
This weekend I was blessed to attend the Catholic Women’s Blogger Network at the amazing Ana Hahn’s house. The experience was surreal in that I got to meet, in person, so many inspirational writers that I had previously only met on the screen. They were real, beautifully authentic, funny, and full of joy. And the truly remarkable thing was that they interacted with each other like true friends will do. I did not witness small talk and guessing games (What’s the name of your blog again?). There was genuine and graceful conversation (It’s so good to see you again! I loved reading your latest post about your new e-book. How is your husband doing?). And even though I had never attended this conference before, and even though my blog is virtually unheard of, they welcomed me with warm smiles.
By the end of the day, I was hugging these women. I was laughing with them. (But I was certainly NOT jumping on the trampoline with them.)
I was able to look in their eyes and find commonality.
Yes, Victoria, there is community in the blogging world. We support each other with comments and link-ups, the experienced and popular bloggers sharing their expertise with the new kids on the block.
Putting a face to many of the witty and thoughtful blogs that I follow gave me hope and purpose. I will continue to write so that I can connect to these courageous women. I will take more time to read their own work because I will be supporting and participating in our community. That is not to say that I will neglect meeting folks in our new town. There will be plenty of opportunity to meet fellow parishioners, soccer moms, and school families. But it will take time. For now, at least, I have a venue where I can share my personal victories and vices.
(Photos courtesy of the lovely Rosie Hill.)