I’ve thought a lot about relationship lately. It was, after all, the word I prayerfully selected as my oneword365 just over seven months ago. The year took a bit of a weird and crazy start on the relationship front, just like it did on several other fronts, when mom had emergency brain surgery, grandma passed away, and I suddenly had to move house in the aftermath of grandma’s death (and that was just in January). And now, seven months in, as I’m in a stage of developing relationship in several different areas, from long-standing ones to some relationships in their infancy, I find myself contemplating the word.
Do you ever wish when you meet someone new that they came with a pop-up bio? A sort of troubleshooting guide to getting to know this person, and developing a relationship with them. I find myself wishing for that lately. More specifically I find myself wishing that I had one of those – a sort of “guide to being Lisa’s friend” for those who haven’t known me for forever, who don’t know my quirks and intricacies.
I’ve been thinking about the kinds of things I’d want a bio like that to say about me. What things would be totally inappropriate to burst out with in casual conversation at the first few coffee dates, but would probably make the building a relationship thing a much smoother ride. I asked myself which things would communicate the parts of me that are essential, but hard to share, and which things would also alleviate my discomfort. These are some of the things that I came up with as I was thinking about relationship:
- Faith is really important to me, and I’ll talk about it with you until the cows come home. More importantly, I’ll listen to you talk about it until the cows come home, and even when I disagree with you, I won’t force my opinion on you, though I probably will share it.
- I spent over a decade dealing with severe, debilitating depression and anxiety. These days I’m almost a decade removed from the worst of that time in my life. My depression and anxiety are well-managed, and I have good coping strategies for keeping them that way. That said, those coping strategies make having a social life awkward sometimes. They mean that I absolutely have to prioritize sleep, and that I have to be really aware of managing my energy levels around interaction with other people. These days, with working full-time in a job that is highly interactive, my introverted heart is needing more rest and downtime than others. It means that I’m saying no to things I would have sometimes said yes to, and that I still desperately want to say yes to. Instead, I have to make my excuses and head home, especially if I need to work again the next day. Basically it means that for right now, I’ve had to learn that to do my job well, on the days I’m working, I need to work and then go home – socializing is kind of out of the question. I fight against that, mostly because I hate how it limits my time, but I’m more interested in staying mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy than in testing my limits too much in this area.
- I’m loyal, and I value loyalty. I’ll remember the big thing you said you were facing, and I’ll ask you about it. I’ll be praying about it too.
- Social stuff is always easier for me if the group is smaller, or if it’s happening on turf that’s familiar (my home is good – please come into my home – I’d love to have you, and I’m so much more myself there than anywhere else)
- I will push myself to interact – I’m invested in building relationships. I know that in the beginning it might take months before those interactions don’t feel draining and maybe overwhelming to me, but I’ve seen the value of pushing through that, of pushing through my introversion time and time again, and I’ll keep doing that. I might need a bit of grace, though, for the times I come out and just want to sit and quietly observe rather than share. I’m watching, listening and enjoying, I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed and I cope with a bit of quiet.
- And finally, I’m an introvert and I have anxiety, but I’m not that shy. It’s about needing space to recharge, not about hiding in a corner. At least not most of the time.
What things would you want in a pop-up bio when you’re building new friendships?