“Medicine and technology may fail us at times, but human connection grounded in love and compassion always heals”
Vivek H. Murthy
You may not know this or realize this but most of the time I’m an introvert. And I say most of the time because I also like to allow myself those days where I feel like I just want to be an extrovert and don’t have to conform to an identity or label I have given myself. I didn’t attempt to leave my house when I was 2 years old because I didn’t like my mom’s rules to just put myself in a jail I created for myself.
Wow, that was a side note because I really don’t know where that came from but I guess I had been feeling like that and writing allowed my emotion to express.
Back to the quote…
Most days I’m an introvert, most days I’m definitely a home body which makes it really hard for me to go out and connect with others. I remember when Blogging first started to be popular and my favorite people to read were Design Love Fest and Joy Choi. And, every-time I saw their beautiful posts, parties, events, lunches and dinners with friends I would always think.. I would love to do this, I know I can put together something beautiful but.. who am I going to invite? There was a clear longing for friendship and connection.
I came to the US when I was 16, right after graduating high school, I first came by myself and then my brother joined me for 2 years. I mention this because I was able to “grow up” far from most of my family and friends, the people that created my life’s foundation. So, in a way, I had this beautiful opportunity to re-connect with myself without any distortion from the reflection of those that had shaped my identity for the past 16 years.
I went to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale which was a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. Looking back, I can see how challenging it was to feel connected to a specific group. At the time, I always leaned towards connecting with those that spoke Spanish. It was the one obvious characteristic we all shared. The thing is, even though we all spoke the same language, most of us came from different countries, meaning different cultures, which many times specially when you are a teenager makes you feel… different.
Feeling “different” can be experienced from two completely different realms. Some people may thrive feeling different but most of us feel disconnected and lonely when we feel “different”. At the time it was difficult for me to resonate with my friends back home and it was just as difficult to fully resonate with my new friends. The thing about this is that, as I mentioned before, I was having an opportunity to re-create my identity and that was happening mainly based on my new experiences. During this time, I gave myself this identity of being a person that simply just enjoyed being by herself and had a hard time connecting with others. Only today I can see where that idea came from.
Lucky for me, and regardless of the distance both physical and emotional, I stayed in touch with my friends back home (Thank you internet). We all grew up to be completely different people from one another, doing different jobs, having different goals and even living in different countries than the one we all grew up in. In other words, we are just totally different people than the ones that met as children.
In 2019 or 2020 I read the book where I took this quote from. And I learned about the importance of community as a species that has being designed to be in groups- a.k.a a social species. After reading it, and I quickly mentioned this in a different post, I was motivated to create a group chat with 3 of my friends that shared one thing in common. We were all married or were living with our significant other.
Although we initially got together because we seemingly had something in common the one thing that has kept us together is our willingness to love and support each other regardless of what each one of us is going through. It has been the love, empathy, compassion and desire to see the other one thriving that has kept us together. It has been the space and safety that we have all provided for each other to be authentically ourselves with our light and darkness that has been transformational or in the words of Dr. Vivek, healing.
It has been this group, this community that has in many ways given me permission to feel authentically myself and most importantly it has healed my perception of being “different” because I have learned and experienced what is feels like to be surrounded by people that celebrate exactly who you are and that have on goal in common, to love and be loved.
© Nat Otalora 2022. All rights reserved.
The more I do and create the more I want to share with others.
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