You may be familiar with the Word of the Year trend (aka #OneWord365) where people choose a theme for the year to come. That word may be Thankful, Fearless, Rest, or Focus—to name a few.
To me, this spin on the popular New Year’s Resolution has always sounded a lot like counting your chickens before they hatch. How can one possibly know what her Word of the Year should be if the year hasn’t even begun? Me, I’ve mostly chosen my words in retrospect. At some point during the month of December, I sit down and evaluate where the past year has taken me. Only then do I determine the overarching theme.
But despite my doubts, I have a word for 2017.
I did not choose this word, mind you. On this I wish to be abundantly clear. Had the choice been up to me, I would have picked any one of those lovely words I listed above. At the very least I might have gone with Wander, Lost, or even Wrecked. (I was wrecked one year and there was something wonderfully poetic about it.) Basically, I would accept almost anything besides the word that was forced, quite unwillingly, upon me.
Yet the word that sunk its talons into my heart that cold, January morning was Together.
You were probably expecting something much worse. After all, Together is a word most people crave. The opposite of together, you realize, is alone. And no one wants to be alone.
I beg to differ.
Alone has worked quite well for me these last twenty-five years. I’ve grown comfortable there in my solitude. In fact, my mother’s chief concern about me moving into my own apartment was exactly that—she feared I would isolate. She warned it wasn’t healthy, practically begged me to intentionally seek people out. And I have, as best as I know how.
But I still crave the solitude.
Maybe it’s a gift; maybe it’s a curse, but I have long been able to do life well alone. I legitimately thrive at this solo gig. But along comes this word, threatening to turn my entire world upside down.
To be honest, I scarcely know what it means. Sure, I know the dictionary definition. Together means being with or in proximity to another person or people. Together, as an adverb, strikes fear into the heart of many an introvert, and I wish I could say my kind of Together was more of an adjective. I could handle a year of becoming more self-confident, level-headed, or well organized.
But I get the feeling I’m not meant to become the kind of woman who has everything together. I think my journey to Together is more likely to make me fall apart. I can already feel myself unraveling.
A lesson I learned long ago is that you can surround yourself with people and still be all alone. I’m practically an expert at isolating myself within a group of people. Every now and again someone sees right through me and the walls I have built so high, and I’m thankful for the effort the devote to my cause. But mostly I spend my life walking the delicate balance between the inside and the outside. Here, but not present. Involved, but not connected.
I may be in proximity to other people, but I don’t know how to be with them very well.
While browsing through the anonymous confessions left on If You Find This Email, I encountered one that made me want to wrap the author up in my arms and say, “Me too. I feel you, girl. Next time you’re feeling down, you can hit me up.”
Because she talked about being the person everyone comes to when they need to know that they are not alone, and how she still cannot find a single person among her thousand contacts that she could be that vulnerable with. She laments that she has no one to tell that she is not okay.
While I am certain that this is a lie we tell ourselves, it is the burden of the girl who thinks she can carry the weight of the world on her own.
It has been my burden for far too long.
I’m realizing that Together means showing up with your presence and not just your body. Sometimes it means showing up with those pieces of you that aren’t all that pretty. So I’m showing up on this blog today to tell you that, like my anonymous friend at If You Find This Email, I’m not okay. And that maybe next year I will thrive at this Together business, but right now it feels like any New Year’s Resolution as March starts creeping closer.
It’s hard and I feel like abandoning ship.
But this word. This word.
I know it is going to haunt me for the remainder of the year, so this is me sucking it up and trying to be faithful to community. Because that’s what Together actually means for me.
- A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common
- A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
One of the first things God said about humankind was that it isn’t good for them to be alone. Consider this my first true (albeit feeble) attempt at Together.
Hello, my name is Rebekah. Let’s be friends.