Tiny Wisdom: On Connecting

“Don’t wait for people to be friendly. Show them how.” -Unknown

From what I can tell, my next door neighbor doesn’t make eye contact with anyone. For a while I thought she was just avoiding me, but I’ve observed that she’s like this with all of our neighbors. By keeping her eyes fixed on her feet, she never has to exchange pleasantries or smiles, let alone get into full-fledged conversations.

She always seems withdrawn and lethargic, and this makes me feel sad for her. I’ve been in that place before–and if she’s feeling anything like I did then, I know that it isn’t easy.

When I avoided eye contact, it was generally because I felt depressed and disconnected, or scared and guarded, or angry and cynical. Behind it all, there was fear, loneliness, and a deep, tragic longing for real, intimate connection.

Yet I rarely opened myself up to people because it made me feel vulnerable. After all, you never know what kind of person someone is when you don’t really know them. You don’t know if they’re friendly or kind.

But you also don’t know that they’re not.

The truth is that we’re really not all that different. We all occasionally walk around with things weighing on our minds. We all shut down sometimes when we’ve had a hard day. And we all want to feel safe to connect with each other, both superficially and meaningfully, so that we feel like we belong to something larger than ourselves.

Today if you see someone who appears unfriendly, remember: They may be hurting and desperately in need of a smile.

Photo by jrwooley6

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Dancnancy1

    You have summed up exactly how I feel about this scenario. I’m the one always withdrawn. Ive been told it’s mistaken for me appearing high and mighty or unkind. In actuality it’s everything you listed in paragraph three. Thank you. Eventhough I know I need to work on it, in the mean time it had made me feel less guilty.

  • Mpeg1022

    @17d058bda1da292440f10b11830f533d:disqus   You are not alone.  🙂

  • Elsa

    For years, this was me.  In my 50’s, I’ve finally improved quite a bit.  I don’t know why I had such fear and embarrassment, but at some point, I decided I didn’t care if people laughed at me or disapproved – or at least not as much.  I’m still a human, even if I’m not perfect – even if they don’t like me – eh, so what?  It’s not really they’re right to detest me unless I do something to hurt them.  Weird that it took me decades to figure that out.

  • jude

    Timely and true…..connection is swirling about me in many ways on many levels very intensely at this time….this piece added to the swirl in a helpful simple uplifting way.  Thank you for this and for this site.

  • You are most welcome. You are not alone, even if it feels that way, and I do know exactly what that feels like. I’m glad my post was helpful to you. =)

  • You are most welcome. =)