Last month I sat at a coffee shop waiting for a client. Just down the aisle of tables sat a group of young women about my age. They were excitedly chatting and laughing, and I couldn’t help but hear every word of their conversation in the otherwise quiet cafe. I gathered from their words that they too were small business owners in the creative industry. They began to rattle off names of Facebook groups I’m a part of, networking functions I’ve been to, and business info websites that I frequent, trading secrets of how and where to learn about the next big thing in business.
Then I started hearing names. Names of industry people. They were chatting about who they love to follow in Instagram. They were talking about people I know. Not just Instagram know, but like, really, know. And while everything these ladies was saying was positive and admirable, I couldn’t help but think about how these girls felt connection and affection with people they’d never actually met.
I’ve sat in meetings and groups with other entrepreneurs feeling totally out of the loop because I don’t follow so-and-so on Instagram, or because I had no idea who the latest It Girl of Snapchat was. I’ve walked away feeling like I should be spending more time online stalking key players in the market and mindlessly hitting the “follow” button on anyone who might have sway in my industry.
I’m guilty of it too. I totally have my preferred lineup of social media crushes on Instagram. I become emotionally invested in particular blogger’s lives. When one of my favorite writers left Facebook, it felt like she was breaking up with me. HOW was I going to reach her? How would I know what was going on in her life without my daily digital IV drip of her words and pictures?
I do this because I crave connection.
I’m not sure if that’s why you do it, maybe there are other reasons for this weird millennial phenomenon, but I know for me, I’m just trying to find connection in an increasingly lonely world. It seems pretty obvious that working for yourself and by yourself could breed loneliness, but I always assumed it would be the kind of loneliness you feel when you come home to an empty house at the end of the day. The kind of isolation that is quiet and makes you think too much. But the brand of entrepreneurial loneliness in the digital age is actually incredibly loud. It’s being at a house party in a house that’s too small for the mass of people, and everyone’s screaming over everyone else, and you’re not sure who to listen to or what anyone is saying. It makes you tired. It makes your ears ring.
You can only learn forgiveness in relationships. You can’t learn that on your own. You can only learn loyalty in relationships. You can only learn love in relationships. You can’t learn kindness or faithfulness or graciousness or unselfishness without others. –Rick Warren
I crave connection, yet I waste away hours of my life settling for something less than that.
Something that consistently leaves a bad taste in my mouth and always falls short of what it feels like to truly relate to another human.
I’m fully convinced that there’s nothing more delightful, nothing more refreshing and satiating than sitting across the table from someone who says to you, “Me too.”
And while I’d like to think that that same warm feeling can wash over me by reading a particularly vulnerable blog post or by finding the right soul sister on Instagram, the reality is those things are just a cheap substitute. No amount of likes or shares can replace a real life human looking into your eyes and saying, “I get it.” Nothing can replace the heart quenching value of me too.
I truly believe that every person needs a few kinds of people in their life:
- Family to love them unconditionally
- Friends to walk (and laugh) alongside
- A mentor to show them the way
- Colleagues to navigate the choppy waters of work with
As an entrepreneur #3 and #4 can be tough to find. I’m on the hunt for both of them myself. If you ever need a coffee buddy or someone to chat about the ups and downs of this whole business thing with, I’m your girl. And if you have any tips for hunting down a great mentor, let me know in the comments below.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. –Ephesians 4:16