Buried in a TEDTalk about the importance of having a tribe, Seth Godin uttered a simple sentence that resonated with me long after the eighteen-minute video.
“People want to be missed, above all else.”
It wasn’t until further reflection that I realized I was carefully building a lifestyle where I wouldn’t be missed.
My muse is the only person who knows if I clocked in for my morning of creative writing. Since my home is my office, I have no cube mates to greet awkwardly in the break room or converse with in the elevator.
The husband and cat would miss me if I failed to show up for dinner time. They would feel my absence if I didn’t occupy the left side of the bed.
My world was carefully constructed by technology to keep people at a distance. I write emails. I send texts. I post on Facebook. I don’t have to connect with people face to face or even in real time.
The less I interacted with people, the less I felt motivated to do so. Social interaction for me has never been easy. Small talk is stilted. Interpersonal exchanges are awkward. Reducing the already limited amount of communication in my life made it harder to welcome it.
Would I be missed?
If I didn’t post on Facebook, would anyone notice? If I didn’t answer an email for a few days, would the sender pick up the phone to inquire about me? If I stopped posting my thoughts on the blog, would that raise an eyebrow?
My world was small, safe, and isolating.
It takes courage to step through the door to a new club. It takes courage to pick-up the phone to invite a friend to lunch. It takes courage to venture beyond my Wi-Fi reach to connect with a stranger at the local farmer’s market.
The biggest lesson that I learned is that while I was trying to reach out to others, I connected with people who will be missed by one more person.