“You’re in the family now. Be a contributor, not just a consumer”

I wrote this post a couple months ago after a particularly life-changing weekend. Finally ready to post.

This past weekend was joy. It was filled with laughter and new friends, art, snow, and a faint heartbeat of melancholy.

I went to two exhibit openings this weekend, at two different places. At the first one, I was in a group of 4 new friends and it was so much fun. The people were truly wonderful and I laughed so much. The art was fantastic, and it was just magical to see so many people out and about appreciating the scene. People dressed up, enjoying cocktails, discussing art and life. 

The following night, I was flying solo. I found the last seat at the bar and ordered a drink, looking around at the art nearest me, and feeling exposed.

Doing things alone is equally fully empowering and fully terrifying. There is nothing that makes you more hyper aware of your aloneness than going to an event where everyone is with someone or groups of friends.

Sometimes I truly feel like a fraud because while I can and have done incredible things on my own (moved across the country, just to name one), it doesn’t mean I still don’t feel the insecurity of flying solo. I wonder who’s looking at me, judging me. I wonder why I can’t make friends faster, I wonder why I’m still single, why I chose to uproot my entire life and start over. I wonder if I’m enough to catch the attention of someone willing to have a conversation and get to know me, and I always wonder if I will have to battle these feelings for the rest of my life. Am I simply destined to be a solo flyer despite yearning for the stability of relationships?

And then someone sits next to me, and conversation starts to flow. Through that one person, I’m introduced to more people and I’m inundated into a world in which I’ve been wandering around the outside of for too long. The conversation continues, the connection feels natural and my heartbeat returns to normal, the anxiety falls away and is replaced by the sweet joy of inclusion, acceptance and that favorite feeling of knowing that I am where I am supposed to be.

The night was magical but also a tad heartbreaking. Patience is not something that I am very good at, so when I see a life I want, I want it then. I don’t want to wait, but I know in the waiting, I am being refined. I am still learning things about myself that continue to shape me and clarify what I want and need. And while I don’t usually get what I want exactly when I want it, my little hopeful heart continues to remind me that if I continue meeting people of this caliber, one day, just one day, it will be for me. It will be that person who’s right at the right time.

There was a point in the conversation of the night that shifted my perspective on my new life. As we spoke of Detroit, and the resurgence of the city, my language still reflected myself as an outsider, as someone coming into the city to take part in something magical. My new acquaintance asked how long I had been here, and as I said 6 months, and explained why I moved, the love I have for the city, he said “You’re a part of the family now. Don’t just be a consumer, make sure you contribute something to it as well.” and it was a big moment for me. I am still new-ish, I still get lost a lot (A LOT). But I’m a resident. My driver’s license is Michigan, I actually remember my new address all the time now. I’m here. This is home now, this is where I will build a new family for the foreseeable future. That requires me to be fully present here. No more looking back West at all the memories made and family still there. Yes, those relationships will continue to be in my life, but they are not my life here.

I know I’m moving in the right direction for everything, I know relationships here will eventually grow and develop, I just have to keep showing up and contributing myself to this. I need to continue to pursue the passions in my heart, whether that’s by volunteering, signing up for events, and going even when it’s just me. I’ve always managed to leave every event that I’ve attended by myself having spoken to at least one person, and generally, I’ve always walked away challenged, encouraged, or both.

It’s such a big change from my life in Seattle. I know I say that quite frequently, but it’s true. Yes, I did things alone but this just feels like in my pursuits, I’m actually moving forward, I’m connecting to people who are like-minded, who are in the arts or are just as passionate as me. It’s rejuvenating and it makes me want to do more so that I can get closer and closer to reaching that next step. I feel like I’ve been rounding a corner for awhile now, and I’m just ready to see what’s on the other side.

But I digress. The only way I can think of ending this post is to just offer a simple thank you to that man at the bar. Thank you for challenging me, for encouraging me, for reminding me that I’m a spectacular human being. Thank you for conversing with me, for introducing me to your friends and other artists. Thank you for the advice and for reminding me exactly why I moved to this city. I look forward to contributing something that one day you may be able to enjoy.

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