Last year I moved from my home in Surrey, away from my friends, church and everything I knew and found myself plonked in the middle of nowhere, completely outside of my comfort zone. I felt isolated and cut-off from everything going on back home. Summer was a long one, put it that way. With the uncertainty of my grades hanging over me and unable to go to church or even get out the house much I really struggled with anxiety about the future and feelings of loneliness.
Many of my friends at home didn’t realise I was as miserable as I was. It’s easy to type ‘I’m doing great’, even when you haven’t showered or dressed properly for three days. I was able to present the illusion that I was settling in, enjoying the slow, country life. A few of my closest friends probably suspected that I was missing home, but how could I expect them to know the extent of it when the happy emojis I was using spoke a different story entirely.
I remember one day some friends who had been planning to drive to see me had to cancel their trip, it was one of the lowest feelings I’d experienced in a while. Here’s why: we are made for community. Even the most introverted of us need to feel the love and presence of others. *Cringe warning*….Friendship is a vital, life-giving source of joy and without it, even for a month or two, is crippling.
So this year, when faced with another summer in the new house, made worse by the fact that M is going to be in America for 2 months, I decided that I would reach out to my friends, admit to them that this is something I’m worried about and seek and most importantly accept their help.
We are made for relationship with God, but also for relationship with others. Unlike God, people can’t always see into our hearts and know and understand exactly what we’re feeling (and if they can- weird). When seeking support from people I think we need to learn the skill of making ourselves vulnerable. I’m blessed enough to have authentic, close friendships but even with those closest to us we can’t always expect them to be perfect mind and heart readers. Sometimes it comes down to the simple act of honesty, actually telling those we trust how we’re really feeling.
Society often tells us that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Last summer I wanted to be strong, to show that I could adapt to my new environment and make the most of it. I know now that I don’t have to do it alone again. This week I’ve started planning my summer and my friends are already helping me fill up the weeks, planning lots of visits, exciting trips and experiences.
I love my family dearly but I know now that for my own sanity I need to be in the new house as little as possible for the 8 weeks that M will be in America (because missing him+no social life= a very long summer indeed. It’s ok to identify the places in your life that make you feel unsettled, that frighten or weaken you and seek help from those who love you to help you overcome them. This is something I’m learning and a truth that I still wrestle with sometimes.
Having such a wonderful group of friends it seems crazy to me that I’ve only just realised this but this week in particular I’ve learned that it isn’t worth hiding something that’s really affecting us just because we don’t want to come across as weak or needy.
We all need the love and understanding of friends and if you have people you can reach out to, please do. I promise you won’t regret it.
Photo cred: meandmyphotomachine