There was a core youth group of about a dozen beautiful individuals whom I would see once a year at UUMAC every summer throughout high school. Those were the years when no one seemed to understand us back home, but these relationships fueled me throughout the year. We all went on with our lives after high school, went to universities all over the East Coast, then moved to Colorado or Massachusetts or wherever. Some of us have gotten married, bought houses, had babies, just generally continued on our respective paths.
|The UUMAC Youth, +/- a few, all grown up. Sort of.|
There were hugs, games, laughing, creativity, and even a dance party. There was also A LOT of catching up to do. We spent one night basically recounting the last 10 years of our lives into the wee hours of the morning. I was reminded: living out loud allows others to do the same. Most of us started out with the basics, but as we felt safer and remembered that bond from years ago, we got more real-- and that's where the magic happens. I noticed that as I shared intimately about the more vulnerable or confusing parts of my recent decade, I heard others share similar hardships or experiences. Even though some of us are taught to "keep it together" or "not to air our dirty laundry" I find that sharing openly in a safe space can bloom into a really precious exchange.
Beauty is in the balance. Yes, the weekend was lots of fun. But real joy happens when we have both the yin and yang. The laughter and the tears. If we hadn't made time for the hard stuff, the laughter wouldn't have felt nearly as light and the connections not nearly so deep. So I was grateful that no one shied away from those hard parts. Instead those moments were met with hugs and warmth.
When we can share our experiences and make the space for others to do so we can be fed at a very deep level, fortified with vitamin C (C for communication!) It's so amazing how both listening and being heard can feed us. Of course we should practice using our voice and communicating our ideas and feelings. It's the listening that more of us struggle with. I don't always do it perfectly, but I know when I practice mindful listening without needing to fix or have the right response or reaction I feel centered and present.
I'll encourage you to seek your own "Vitamin C" in the safe spaces in your lives, with old friends, new friends, a therapist, or your health coach. It looks different for each of us. Sometimes it may be challenging or messy. Sometimes we feel grossly unprepared or ill-equipped. Sometimes we don't want to brag, or be a downer, and we feel like "no one wants to hear about this stuff anyway." Some are trying to communicate around that big dark road block called aphasia, or a voice disorder. But I'll encourage you to just do your best anyway and experience the results.