Q: I have just a few close friends and often feel isolated and alone and sometimes wonder if I’m depressed. My self-confidence isn’t what I want it to be and I’m wondering how can I improve these parts of my life?
A: First and foremost I want to say that if you have a few true, close friends, consider yourself blessed. For better or for worse, social media has led us down the path of thinking that we are capable of having 452 friends. We’re not and we don’t. But in my opinion, if you have even a couple solid, loyal, honest friends, you are fortunate indeed and perhaps you are just not allowing yourself to reach out to them. Allow them the opportunity to be a friend not just in word, but in deed as well. All my life I have been fiercely independent and loathe to ask anyone for help with anything. It’s like it goes against my very DNA to reach out and ask anyone for anything, including those closest to me. But I can tell you that I’m a work in progress on this point and am trying to change this stubborn, overly resolute part of who I am. With time and maturity I have realized how honored I feel when those I love and care about call on me and allow me the privilege of truly being a friend. And so who am I to not allow for the give and take that is the hallmark of true friendship. So I would ask you to look at whether or not you are asking and allowing your friends to truly be your friends. If you feel isolated and alone, look at what you are putting out into the world and ask if you are allowing yourself to be open, approachable, and yes, vulnerable. The more we offer of ourselves with unguarded sincerity the more we will receive in like kind from those around us. There was a TED speech that Greg had me watch one time that was like a well-placed arrow aimed directly at the heart of who I am. It challenged me then and continues to vex and challenge me now because I know it is the answer I just have yet to master the message. It may be something you want to watch and listen to oh…I don’t know, a hundred and four times perhaps.
As far as depression goes, allow me to say that having brushed up against this kind of darkness in my life I take it more seriously than you could possibly imagine. When Greg was “away” I came to an awareness that individuals in common culture can have a couple bad days and lament over happy hour at the local watering hole that they are “so depressed.” If you have experienced or known anyone who has battled true depression in all is gripping and unshakable despair you will never use the phrase, “I’m so depressed,” in casual conversation again. Having said that, any MD, Ph.D. or therapist worth their salt will tell you than you can no more talk yourself out of depression than you can talk yourself out of a heart attack or being diabetic. This is 100% a medical issue and needs to be respected as such. The wonderful news though is that there is a world of treatment options available and we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to seek them out unabashedly if we are struggling in this way.
Now the topic of self-confidence is a tricky discussion to be sure. It is my firm belief that every parent’s primary responsibility in life is to allow their children to know they are completely, utterly and unconditionally loved. While this should be every child’s birthright, we all know there is much that can happen along the way to uproot this garden and that for some, it was never planted in the first place. So if self-confidence wasn’t given to us, how do we go about giving it to ourselves? I would refer you to the wildly successfully Nike advertising campaign and say, “Just Do It.” Ah, but easier said than done you say. Of course it is, just like everything else in life. And if I leave Nike out of this, the best advice I can give you is to find and explore your spirituality. Each one of us here on Earth has a purpose and a reason. Each one of us is an act of Divine Inspiration and Heavenly achievement. I’m not going to tell you what your belief system should be but if you are struggling with self-confidence, it is a pretty safe bet that you lack one. And this isn’t a criticism, it is a calling. A calling to become acquainted with just how necessary, unique and priceless you are in this world. What right do you have to deny or belittle what a matchless and singular creation you are? I don’t believe one can live with awareness in this world and not acknowledge a higher power. I, and everyone you know, could tell you how special you are until the cows come home and you will always find a way to talk yourself out of such assertions. But go ahead and tell God that he made a mistake…I dare you. Try telling Him that you aren’t absolutely everything he intended…just not yet. His purpose for you is your “verse” as Greg would say and how you can find the wherewithal, to doubt His perfect work…you, is an argument I would love to hear. It is the one embrace that never wavers and I would encourage you to seek it out. The entire world will look different once you allow the certainty of how meaningful and intentional you are to soak in and allow the garden grow in all its glory.