Relationships. They may not make the world go ’round, but they are certainly what make the ride worthwhile. Of course the quote I’m paraphrasing says love is, but it works in this instance, too. Aren’t all relationships a form of love anyway? I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, I’m also talking about friendships and the connections you have with your family, pets and even yourself. Do they take effort? Of course. Every single one of them. But all the things in life worth having do.
I’ve been making an effort over the last year to dedicate time to the relationships that are important to me. Which, as an introvert, can be difficult at times; but I’m striving to be more available and supportive to those that I cherish. And struggling to also be more vulnerable with them as well. Vulnerability is not easy, at least not for me. It’s terrifying actually. Once you open yourself up to sharing your deepest hopes and fears and ideas, you allow the judgment and opinions of others in. But just as it is terrifying, it is also freeing. And letting go and breaking out of your shell with the people who genuinely care for you is not something to be scared of, but rather to embrace. They are the ones who will give you the advice when you need it, the help when you ask for it, and the cheers when you accomplish a goal you’ve been working towards.
Make time for your friends. Set aside time for that coffee date or skype sesh. Block off a spot in your calendar for that drink after work, brunch on a Sunday, workout class with the bestie, or movie with your girlfriends. It’ll be worth it. They’ll thank you for listening to their woes, for laughing along with them or for encouraging their latest venture. Believe me, I know how easy it is to say that you’ll text them next week once you’ve caught up on everything at home, but a week normally becomes weeks and when does life ever slow down? Learn to say yes and learn to plan ahead. Make the effort to connect with them even if they haven’t had a chance to contact you. Life flies by pretty quickly for everyone.
Make time for your family. For your moms and dads. For your grandparents. For your brothers, sisters, cousins. These are your people. They are the ones who are suppose to love you and be there for you no matter what life throws your way. And you should be there for them. Not just when everything is falling apart. Not just for birthdays and holidays. But every day. This was something I used to be the worst at, I admit. (Sorry mom!) During college, I would disappear off their radar for sometimes weeks. Not because I didn’t care, but because I lacked a plan and simply took the days how they came. Living by the next quiz date, paper deadline, or meeting time. This wasn’t fair. And now, I’m remedying that. Not because I feel like I need to, but because I want to. In your mid to late twenties, you begin to see that your parents actually do know what they are talking about and have very valuable knowledge to give. You learn that your brother or sister is not your arch nemesis but actually pretty darn cool and you learn that your grandparents have some incredibly interesting stories to tell.
Make time for your unit. Your significant other is your partner. They are the ones you share your entire self and life with. This is the one person you should be able to bare your soul to and laugh with until you snort. When everyone else in your life falls short, they should have your back. Always. Thank them for this. Give that the respect it deserves. Make time to celebrate it. And while I’m all for vegging on the couch in front of Netflix, sometimes it should be special. Go on a romantic dinner date, share some ice cream, lay under the stars, play a board game or go for a walk together. With no distractions. Get out of the day to day, dig deep and talk about your passions and your fears, have fun and remember why you chose that person to be yours. Your kids are also in this group. They are a part of you. They depend on you to raise them, teach them and love them. I don’t have any of my own yet; but when I do, I know what I’ll definitely make time for: Answering all their questions (even the crazy ones), listening to their stories, playing dress up or house or pirates, holding them when they are upset, teaching them everything I know, and telling them I love them over and over and over again.
Make time for you pets. As silly as it sounds, this is one of my favorite relationships. They are always there for you. Running up to you when you come home, snuggling with you when you’re sad, and always up to play. Give them the love they deserve too. Theirs for you is unconditional. Spend time with them. Take them on long walks, give them treats, pet them, snuggle them, and make sure they know they are loved too.
Make time for you. Lastly, and most importantly, is the time you spend with yourself. I need my me time. Without it, I’m stressed, emotional, and fairly incompetent when it comes to functioning. Alone time lets me recharge, ponder, dream, relax and plan. Take yourself on dates. Go see a movie, take a solo walk, read a book, catch up on a favorite TV show with a glass of wine, break out your planner or a journal and let your thoughts flow. It’s good for the soul. It’s helps you grow.
I know we only have 24 hours in a day and all this time sounds daunting to divvy up appropriately. I’m the first to say that I fail miserably at it sometimes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try again. The best way I’ve found is to schedule. I set aside Tuesdays and Thursdays to catch up with friends. Some weeks you have to switch some days around, but that’s the default. Almost every morning, I have coffee with my mom (and sometimes dad too on weekends) so I can catch up with them and the family. My favorite times with Annabelle is when we cuddle in the morning before getting up or at night right before bed, as well as our twice daily walks around the lake. I talk to J throughout my days, every day, and we are sure to make the time count when we are able to visit each other. I also make sure that at least 4 days a week, I take a walk by myself. Not just for exercise and stress relief, but so I can let my mind wonder. You have to make a conscious effort to make it work. But it’s worth it. All genuine relationships are. And the sooner you embrace them as important and the sooner you realize they are worth your full attention when you’re engaging in them, the happier and more fulfilled you will be. Make the effort. Your heart will thank you.