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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #92
As was discussed last Monday on the blog/podcast, finding time to be by ourselves is a crucial component to finding true happiness. For it is when we investigate and discover what our deepest nature is that we discover how to live a life that will bring us the most fulfillment and satisfaction.
It is also during the moments of regular solitude that we discover how much social interaction we need and what type of social interaction best suits our personality. After all, we are social creatures. Whether our nature gravitates toward gregarious encounters or thrives on limited, but substantive intimate time together, we do need others. It’s all a matter of determining what we need.
The entire month of February this year has focused on cultivated a strong and thriving social well-being. Having discussed romantic love, dating, trusting our journey and the importance of determining our true nature, I’d like to wrap the month up with the overview of a healthy social fabric. What does it consist of, what do we invest in, what must we not forget as we navigate the conscious development of a healthy social life.
It’s important to note that everyone’s social quilt, let’s say, will be unique. Your “tribe” may be made up entirely of friends you consider family, while others may have some relatives and family members as well as friends who feel as though could be your birth siblings. Others still will have friends of varying ages, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. And not everyone will be seen as a friend, but rather acquaintances from different circles: work, hobbies, the past, neighborhood, etc.
The quilt that becomes your social network will be dynamic in many ways, evolving, and involve editing as you move through your own life and the people you connect with move through theirs, but it is important to know that your quilt will be unique to you.
However, the most important piece to the quilt’s entire structure . . . is you.
1. Be your own best friend
“When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier.” -Diane von Furstenberg
At the heart of living well is knowing who you are. Without knowing such an imperative answer, we cannot know how to navigate a life that will bring us contentment. Following the discovery of who each of us is, we then must then like who we are and who we are becoming. We choose that path. We choose what improvement bvs to make, what curiosities to follow, what words to say, what actions to take, and we must like our decisions because we want to enjoy the company we keep. And if we enjoy our own company, we put that self-respect out into the world in every interaction we have with others. And it is how we treat ourselves that we teach others how to treat us.
Start with yourself. Become your own best friend and you will begin to know who allow into your life and who to let go of.
2. Invest in your social network
“Friendships provided the core of what I wanted from adulthood — connection, shared sensibilities, enjoyment . . . my female friendships were replenishing, and their salubrious effect expanded into other layers of my life: They made things I yearned for, like better work, fairer remuneration, increased self-assurance and even just fun, seem more attainable.” —Rebecca Traister in her NYTimes article
One of the best examples of the importance of building a social network is the life of an expat. Tamara Micner recently shared in The Wall Street Journal strategies for subverting the loneliness that inevitably pops up after the honeymoon stage of living in a new country, and at the top of the list of building your social network. Begin to seek out entities, organizations and interests that maintain your well-being and peace of mind. From building rapport at work with a few colleagues you have similar interests with to seeking out a religious facility that speaks to your beliefs, start with small steps, but continue to put yourself out there in the arenas that are congruent with your values, interests and lifestyle. Before long you will have a few friends and more than a handful of acquaintances that will know your name and begin including you, and you them in your social calendar.
3. Take your time finding your partner
“…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.” ― Julia Child,
If you are looking for a partner or are in a partnership, the significant role it can play in our lives can be tremendous. Tremendously amazing or tremendously exhausting and draining. And as is the case, while relationships take continued investment and attention, they also should not be something to rush into or scurry about madly for if you find yourself not in one at the moment.
Part of the reason I pulled Julia Child’s quote is that too often we aren’t ready to be in the relationship that we seek. Too often we need to grow and evolve and explore as an individual so we can be the partner worthy of the relationship we dream of being in. In any case, trust your timing. By no means refrain from an opportunity to meet new people and go out on dates, but certainly don’t throw yourself into any relationship that offers itself simply to avoid being alone.
The “trouble” in the scenario we are speaking about is the time it takes, that we can never know or predict, to experience our “meet cute”. All we can do is live our lives. Do our thing, be our best selves because to quote Julia Child again, “Life itself is the proper binge.” Binge on life and that will draw to you a bevy of people, whether they be potential friends, acquaintances or a partner, who just might be someone to include in your quilt.
Each of the three aspects of a healthy social well-being involve attention, time, investment and a shedding or letting go of others that detract from those who hold a priority in your life. Again, the idea of quality versus quantity comes to the surface, for if we wish to have a rich social network, we need to be clear about what will and what won’t allow ours to flourish.
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~Found: The Missing Piece, Trust (podcast)
~How to Deal with Toxic People (podcast)
—Pardon My French podcast with Garance Doré
~Premieres this coming Thursday, March 3rd and a new episode will go live each Thursday. Available on iTunes. Listen to the trailer of her podcast here.
Images: (1 –Vogue)