"I reached out, she grabbed my hand, and we have been friends ever since" Gwyned wrote.
the sentence "I reached out" is big.
Recently my friend Gwyned and I were discussing the joy of having couple friends. She and her husband became couple friends when she reached out to the wife during a health crises, and they all bonded as four friends not two couples.
Reaching out is the step a lot of people miss for several reasons.
I was shy, very shy, growing up.
I was an A student, but once took an F rather than stand up in front of the class to do a report.
I was an artistic sensitive person who grew up in an authoritarian abusive household, and self expression was not rewarded.
Confidence cannot grow in that soil.
When I was in college, a girlfriend and I met some guys (who were students from Toronto) at Disney World and we all kept up a writing friendship when they left Fl. One of them told me being shy is a waste of time!
I had never thought of it that way.
Joe said, "just put yourself out there, take the risk you'll be rejected or ignored".
"What's to lose really?" he asked
He was telling me the response from other people was less important to me than reaching out was to me. He was telling me their response did not define me.
A little passing sentence in a long line of letters between college kids ended up changing my life.
I began that week to look people in the eye as I passed. I began to say hi when I sat near someone. I began to look at people rather than the tops of my shoes.
I became less shy.
I became more me, the person who wants to know others.
I became more powerful in a way, taking the risk of rejection knowing it would not un-do me to be rejected.
I became happier as I met some very nice people for a minute in passing, or who later became friends.
I learned I was a person who was interested in others, and by looking at them, and talking to them, I could learn about them. It enriched my life.
As a child, I longed to be a performer. A singer and dancer in shows. I was painfully shy, fearful of others, so I put that goal behind me as unreachable.
I approached University as a straight A student, confident in my ability to learn and succeed in school. I decided to be a surgeon instead of an actress.
I went through 2 1/2 years of pre-med classes, succeeding but increasingly unhappy. I went into counseling at University where I continued the real path to finding out who I was under the shyness. I took a turn from medicine toward psychology as I realized that fit me more.
It was like the shyness problem... I didn't listen to my heart. I did what I thought I was meant to.
When I opened my eyes to the possibilities, and someone asked what I wanted to do instead of telling me what to do, I moved into social science field.
I blossomed and began to know who I was, and it wasn't who I was told to be. I never made much money as a social worker, but I learned about people in a way most people do not. I learned to see and hear them, that there were many choices in life. I learned self respect as I made choices too.
I've never been good at choice making because I become paralyzed trying to make the right one. Then I learned there is not always a right one to make.... you make a choice and live with the results until you make another choice. Making no choice may be the worst choice.
My baby steps toward speaking to strangers, reaching out to others became a marathon. I still have bouts of shyness, when self doubt and old parental disapproval plays in my mind. It's when I overcome and take the risk of standing up for myself, that I grow in strength.
The kind of strength that is real, the inside kind of quiet strength of character that is called for in society.
I admire people who quietly know who they are.
With nothing to prove, they have no need to overpower others. When I am around them I am reminded that my opinions are valid and respected.
People who seek power at the expense of other people are dangerous and disgusting to me.
They see life as a competition with winners and losers. They find joy in overpowering others. They can charm you in a manipulative way in order to steal your power.
I learned back in college what real strength was. It is quiet and deep. I learned from a passing sentence from a new acquaintance.
Strength is knowing who you are, what you believe, and acting on that.
Strength takes away nothing from others.