Craving Connection By Jori Lichtman
It’s almost 11 on a Thursday night and I have the urge to write. In fact, I’ve had the urge for quite some time now. Not surprisingly, starting is the hard part. It always is. I guess I’ll start by acknowledging that I’m scared, nervous, confused and self-conscious about sharing these thoughts and feelings. But I’m doing it anyway.
I’m almost 37 years old, a mom of three healthy and beautiful kids, a wife, a daughter, a sister, friend and active member of the Jewish community. Both my husband and I work full time (with him traveling for work fairly often) and, like many people who could have easily dropped themselves into this description, I have a lot of “stuff” going on. There’s always a school form to fill out (often handed in late), a program to register for, a birthday party carpool to arrange or homework to monitor. Amidst all that (and I’m not complaining for one second about any of it as I feel blessed every day!), I have my health and a comfortable lifestyle. On paper, I’m not lacking anything. But there is something missing – well, not totally absent, but I want more of it.
No, not the Wifi kind.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t for a second claim to be better, deeper or more enlightened than those around me. If anything, I feel different. And not always in a good way. I once got in a “fight” over text with an old friend – a friendly and playful one and there were no hard feelings, but it stuck with me. I tried a few times to call her to talk – to connect and catch up. She wouldn’t call me back. She said (over text) “I don’t talk, I just text.” And she’s not the only one. Even though we have so much in common on the surface, I sometimes have a hard time connecting with others in my social circle. They want to text. I want to talk. Hence, the feeling different part.
I get texting. I text too. I’m not anti-texting (though I am VERY anti-texting-and-driving). Texting can be convenient, easy … all those things. But I often feel I want to connect – really talk, relate, laugh – while others don’t. Or maybe they don’t want to connect with me. Or maybe they are perfectly happy talking, relating, and laughing … via text. And that’s fine of course. There’s no right way to connect. It’s a personal thing. It’s certainly not my place to judge how others choose to connect. For me, though, I’ve learned something important about myself with all this technology at my fingertips. Sometimes I want to throw it out the window and just have some genuine catch-up time and a good laugh with a friend. And, maybe it’s just me, the different one, but I find texting incredibly frustrating, time consuming and annoying. If I could cut the amount of wrong auto-corrects I have in my life in half, what a beautiful thing that would be.
Over the past several years, especially as my children are getting older (they are in grades 4, 2 and Junior Kindergarten), my interaction with those around me can often be described as “transactional.” That is, we interact to make a transaction – mostly exchanging kids for play dates. In many ways, I feel like the odd one out who would prefer to talk for a few minutes before getting down to business and confirming the start time, end time, location and transportation details for the play date in question. Do I just have too much time on my hands that I can spare a couple of minutes to chat? Is it just me people don’t want to talk to? Maybe.
So where does that leave me now?
Craving connection and looking for ways to make it happen.
I recently made the decision to join a women’s trip to Israel with the JWRP (Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project) through The Village Shul. I leave on Nov. 1 for two weeks. When I interviewed for the trip, I felt an immediate connection with the trip leaders and organizers. It sounds corny, but I truly felt like I had found a home and found what I’ve been craving. And I feel that every time I see these amazing women now – whether it’s during a Thursday night class I’ve been attending that I describe as being about life values and being a better person (where has this class been all my life?), or at The Village Shul for the holidays and Shabbat where my family and I, according to a fellow member and new friend, just settled right in and made ourselves comfortable.
During the first meeting with all the participants for the Israel trip (including around 40 diverse, smart and unique women), everyone went around the room and introduced themselves and what they hoped to gain from the experience. Again, I felt a sense of comfort. And if the trip lives up to all the amazing expectations that have been shared with me by former participants and leaders – and I have no doubt it will – I’m confident I’m on the right path to finding and enjoying deeper connections and relationships.
So maybe I’m not so different after all. Maybe I just need to find my fellow puzzle pieces and MAKE those connections happen. And instead of focusing on arranging play dates for my kids all the time, I don’t mind putting myself first for a change and slotting a girls’ night into the calendar to make the space for those connections to grow. #RealConnections