Life Opens Up When You Do
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Today, I would like to describe the profound difference between approaching life with isolation and approaching life with openness and zest.
A comment I frequently received from friends and family while I was in the midst of my eating disorder was that they had “lost me”. Reflecting on how I have enjoyed spending my time throughout my life, and the various interactions I have experienced has allowed me to process this comment and conclude how much more fun, fulfilling, and love-filled life is when I have been energetic, open, and vivacious.
Specifically, I can recall excitedly welcoming my mom’s bridge friends when they came over on Tuesday nights: “HELLLLOOOOOO ladies, we are so glad you are here!”, and going on to enjoy the spread of snacks my mom set out for them. I can recall making friends riding the bus home from school when I was in elementary and middle school. I can recall participating in a variety of activities: tennis, piano lessons, soccer, softball, Girl Scouts, a sorority, service organizations. I used to make friends with individuals at work or in the community and be asked out for dates. I used to enjoy the festive food available out. I had fun and I made memories.
In December, I got to go to Universal Studios while attending a pharmacy conference. I went on a Jimmy Kimmel virtual ride that had you flying in a car above the streets of New York. In those moments, I laughed. I forgot about my stresses. After those fleeting moments left, I realized, “that was the first time in months that I had fun. That I forgot about my problems”. And it occurred to me that was a problem. Upon further assessment, fun was not the only thing lacking in that time: I wasn’t spending time outside, I wasn’t making new friends, I wasn’t going on dates, I wasn’t laughing, I wasn’t spiritually engaged, I wasn’t serving others, I wasn’t taking care of myself—I wasn’t open.
Flash forward to March 2018. Yesterday, I had a soul-filling conversation with a total stranger in Barnes and Noble. My official start date for residency is slightly over a week away, but I wanted to get out of the apartment to get some work done and for Hope to get acclimated to me being away. I went to one of my old favorites: Barnes and Noble. I sat in a booth, typing away yesterday’s blog post. About an hour in, a gentleman approached the coffee bar, and then came and sat at the table next to me with his order. Historically, high-strung Kate would be put off by a stranger sitting so close to her while she is trying to get her work done (and yes, I realize that statements paints me in a totally unflattering light and that I was probably neurotic at the time). Yesterday, I slightly looked up and continued typing. A few minutes later, he asked me, “are you blogging?”. I told him I was, and he told me that I “looked like a blogger”, which I found hilarious, but he elaborated that it was a compliment and that I looked fashionable (note: I typically only the leave the house in yoga pants and loose t-shirts but yesterday I actually put on some booties and a pair of jeans). When he asked me what I blog about, I told him about eating disorders. We ended up discussing my anorexia, the damage it caused in my life, my reasons for blogging, my perception of the diet culture we live in. I’m glad that I could expose him to a struggle faced by so many individuals, but the true soul-giving element of the conversation was when he opens up to me. I heard about the struggles he has encountered in his life, his life goals, his family dynamics, and how he has overcome his obstacles. We may have come from different walks of life, but we found that we both benefit from yoga, practice writing, journal, and going to brunch. We chatted for some time. When the conversation closed, I realized this sort of interaction would never have occurred three months ago. Yesterday, I looked approachable. My demeanor is more joyful. (*I frequently suffer from RBF=resting b**** face, and my mom always tells me to smooth my brows so I don’t look off-putting to others). This openness led to a new acquaintance and hopefully another blog reader. Previously, I would have had ear phones in and answered shortly to avoid delaying work. But I think some of life’s greatest moments occur as distractions.
Other “open” moments that have happened in the last week that have led to new friends and wouldn’t have happened before:
- Going to a group biking ride alone. By the end of the day, I’d made at least three new friends and heard about a new yoga studio that I’m going to go check out with one of these friends. I also found out about future group rides and events that I can participate in.
- Taking Hope to the dog park leads to all sorts of new friends. My apartment has a group me for dog owners that I got added to.
- I went back to church and life group this past week, which re-enlivened old friendships.
- I signed up for kickball on my own. It starts tomorrow, and I’m terrified, but I think the experience will force me out of my comfort zone and be FUN.
Today, my hope for you is that you can step out of your comfort zone. Open up. See what happens. And then let me know 🙂