I am a woman who likes her quiet time. I like to be alone, reflective, creating, or stilling still. It’s how I ease stress, solve problems, rejuvenate. So, writing is a good profession for me, until it’s not.
This last month, as I finished up my book, I needed a lot of alone time just to stay grounded. The work itself requires intense focus – easier to do alone. By the end of the day, I had little left over and I didn’t feel like interacting much with others.
But soon, there was a missing. Too much space. A sense of isolation. While I’m comfortable with my introverted nature – I revel in it really – I also thrive because of the connection I have with my friends.
I don’t love big parties, or fast-paced events, but I am so much better, wiser, more fulfilled after a good laugh with the girls during the occasional dinner. I have greater perspective and patience when I hear the ideas and insights of my friends. I am more compassionate because they are brave enough to share their experiences and I am just so much happier because these awesome people are in my life. That sustains me even during my quiet time.
No surprise here. Humans, even those less social ones, are still social creatures. Our relationships were a matter of survival in the early days. Those who lived in clans and tribes survived longer than those who lived alone. Our connections helped with the whole hunting and gathering thing.
In the modern world, social relationships are just as important. Our connection to others lowers the risk of depression, improves digestive and immune function, and eases stress – which improves just about everything else, according to Harvard Medical School.
We also tend to be more caring ourselves when we have strong social networks. We are more generous, more nurturing and that releases oxytocin and a bunch of other stress-reducing hormones. We are also more resilient.
But the biggest perk for me comes when I’m sitting with my besties, sharing the stories and stresses of our lives. I feel accepted and loved and we laugh like crazy because they are all so hilarious. It’s simple: I am better because of the people I have in my life. Friends are like the flowers of life. They add color and sweetness.
In the end, when this last book was put to bed, and I had the energy to go back out into the world. I was ready. I missed my friends, but in the missing I realized they make even the quiet moments more meaningful.
All kinds of connections are important and valuable. In Wednesday’s post I’ll introduce to a couple of friends who also have influenced me a great deal professionally. Who says you need to wear a fancy suit or leave your home to do a little professional networking?
Image by Erin Cairney White
Erin Cairney White uses mixed media – acrylic paints, gelatos and a variety of papers, inks and stamps to create her work from her Snohomish, Washington studio. Her original artwork is available through the little details company.