I have an uncle who, for the last few months, has been sending me random videos on Facebook. They weren’t the quick and fun videos that travel through the various dimensions of the web. Rather, they were all, at least, 10-minutes and the subject matter varied from our cultural history, the Haitian government, and videos about cultures around the world.
Here’s why this was problematic for me: I’m terrible at maintaining communication with people. I might respond to the first few texts but after some time, my attention span will taper off and I will become exhausted by the stresses of human interaction.
Although he’s my beloved uncle, his messages really annoyed me for a while. I felt burdened by the responsibility to respond with something thought provoking and inciteful, proving that I had, indeed, watched the long ass video. I’d question why he wanted to share these things with me, I’d take a week (or more) to respond, and I didn’t give him the engagement he not only desired, but deserved.
Then it dawned on me:
He’s just trying to communicate with me.
It takes nothing for me to be a total recluse. My job requires me to talk to everyone. All day. I am incessantly answering questions, explaining how to perform a task, making phone calls, or what have you. That is incredibly draining for me, so when I get home, I pretend my phone doesn’t exist. And while self-preservation is incredibly important, it doesn’t mean that I should take my relationships for granted.
It’s hard to find a balance between the things that are constantly stimulating us. We go to work, we’re perpetually engaging with technology, our own lives, the thoughts that plague us, and the sheer responsibility to exist. It’s tiring and that’s okay. Like I said before, finding that balance is hard, but it’s not impossible.
I think most of us fail to realize that in our role of being parents, children, siblings, colleagues, lovers, we mean something to the people in our orbit. Those people cherish our presence and essence of life, they love us and want to be with us, and they just want to talk to us.
I completely neglected the fact that my uncle, who lives very far away from me, has just been trying to find a way for us to remain close. I lost my father, and his brother, in 2014 and our family hasn’t been the same since. We’ve become more distant, and I’m done a fantastic job at isolating myself from people around me because I haven’t quite figured out how to grieve this tremendous loss. Rather than hang on to this beautiful and loving family I’ve been blessed with, I crawled into my own little corner and tried to find peace.
However, in my quest to survive, I was blind to how pulling away from my loved ones probably made them feel like they had lost two people at once.
Communication is intimate. It is the fine thread that holds relationships together. It connects us all to one another, and all we have to do is be present. Be open. Make time for people who love you. And it’s okay if the time you have is small chunks out of your day or one evening out of your week — what matters is the effort and your loved ones will thank you for it.