Sooooo, never would I have ever thought in my wildest dreams that I would be saying I’m not hanging out enough. Not a single person who has known me in any capacity prior to 2015 would say, “Who, Ben Gear?! That guy sure needs to get out more!” I allowed my social life to define me. It created and destroyed relationships, created and eliminated kids, buried any semblance of my authentic self, muted all thoughts of motivation, obliterated morals, and redefined my values. When I was finally able to distance myself from my social addiction I started hating it, when that subsided, I feared it. Little did I know, I needed it.
What about the last blog, was that not just me celebrating my ability to be alone and how (insert McDonald’s theme: ‘Ba da da da da da’) I’m lovin’ it?! Well, this isn’t a retraction by any means, it’s observation, assessment, and alteration...growth. I wanna talk about Balance, specifically work to social, but in general because I’ve been realizing how essential it is and how frikin terrible I am at it.
My focuses for the year: Freedom (independence) Family, Friends, and Finances. The grand objective in seeking to improve things should be to create an overall balance. I’m pretty sure I’ve been trying to delete and replace rather than assess and improve. “Everything in moderation” is such a foreign concept for me because I’ve only gone hard. When drinking, I had this deceptive brand of tunnel vision. It allowed me to feign give-a-damn and presence where needed, while never losing sight of my objective...social ascension. Though the objective was lame, being hyper focused totally facilitated my achievement. So one would assume that with that same mentality geared toward a more productive goal, that would be the cure all. Well, yes and no.
Throughout my prior blogs, I have spoken on reading, writing, prayer, and meditation and how these are the things I do. Literally, these are all the things I do. Granted, I do work and are the sparse attendee of my friend-groups social functions. But, I show up so rarely that when I do, the reaction is as if I came in from out of town. Honestly, socializing sketches me out. Not the being around people part obviously, it was that I feel/felt like I don’t deserve it. I had prioritized socialization over everything else in life for so long that I feel indebted to my future. Also, I fear my ability to manage a work/social balance so I pretty much said “screw it!” I DO, however make a two hour appearance once to twice a month for the best cover band ever (#skinnybagofsugar) and then head right back home.
I believe nothing is solely of itself, everything has components. You wanna be healthier, you don’t just eat right, you get appropriate rest, you exercise, etc. If I was a gym attendee I wouldn’t do leg month and then do arms the following month; that’s actually creating IMbalance. Personal balance also has components: intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, and (apparently) social and I have to attend to them all consistently...just in baby bites.
Focusing on my spiritual growth catapulted my life upward and forward. This was a new and productive high, so in classic addict fashion I craved more and was willing to neglect other areas to regain, sustain, and increase it. I deliberately distanced the people who I didn’t deem as spiritually driven under the slogan “If you ain’t on what I’m on then I just can’t fuck with you.” I still worked with and helped people whenever/wherever I could but socially I was uncompromisingly selective. The obvious result was a wealth of self induced alone time that I was okay with until my soul told me otherwise.
What it appears I’ve been doing was having this extended spiritual leg day and never attending to my social arm day. Like with most things, if it goes unused it doesn’t lose value, it loses vitality. In my case, I’d forgotten how to be social. I wasn’t experiencing the release of carefree interaction or giving my brain a break to recoup from whatever information I took in the days prior. A couple months ago I was at a friends birthday party, realized I was having fun, and then felt guilty about it. Like, I legit felt like I was doing wrong by enjoying time with my friends and not analyzing my situation and surroundings.
I mentioned it to a buddy there and he compassionately explained the okayness of those feelings. With my history, my apprehension towards the social was understandable. It also shed light on the why I needed to go so hard at becoming more spiritually sound and independently capable. He mentioned balance which I heard but didn’t internalize and apply therefore no proactive efforts were made. Thankfully the universe doesn’t wait for my approval to give growth the go ahead.
When the initial bliss of living alone wore off this internal feeling of incompleteness became very noticeable. I couldn’t place it until two days ago when talking to a friend who’d recently reduced their workload and started incorporating more social time. It dawned on me that this was what I was lacking and why I was off balance. I’ve been saying I’d try to do more family and friends stuff since the start of the year and hadn’t really done so yet outside of Sunday’s when I have my son (SONday’s).
My prayer Sunday morning was for more balance and the universe really does always provide when you put something out there. In a feeble attempt to initiate a social sesh (session) I reached out to some people. The problem there was that I reached out for productivity partners which was the antithesis of my solution. Fortunately, everyone I reached out to already had plans and that’s when my phone rang. My sister was headed to town with an extra ticket to the UNC/dook women’s basketball game! I hadn’t seen or talked to her in a few months and had been missing her anyway so this was perfect. We went to the game (which the Tar Heels won!!!) and then grabbed dinner and watched football; it was literally everything I needed. That off feeling had subsided and when we parted ways I left feeling fulfilled.
Finding balance is ever-changing and ongoing process that requires an honest appraisal and the willingness to adjust when and where necessary. I think the common reaction when we find something that we deem not good is to extract it. Sometimes that’s correct and sometimes it’s excessive. In my case, I needed a social-ectomy because it was ruining my life. I knew the work I put in to sever ties with this obsessive behavior was complete when my soul was telling me I needed it. Now I can start to incorporate it again with new knowledge and behaviors as a different person.
“Sometimes you have to go away to make a come back” ~ Beanie Sigel (Don’t Realize).
Routine has been the most effective way to initiate and/or implement new behaviors in my life. Having yourself on a behavioral schedule sounds kinda corny but...I’m a corny dude. My routine allots time daily for prayer, meditation, meetings, reading, exercise, and phone time with my son. Everyday I try to do something that gives deliberate growth attention to my brain, soul, emotions, and body. Now, I’m going to have to throw in something to feed my need for leisure human interaction. If I do a little bit everyday I can my grow my complete self and better prevent lopsided development.
Growth and progress is what we’re here for. We do this to become the best version of ourselves to better, ease, and assist the next person through their journey. We can only fulfill that calling if we are looking at and listening to ourselves to recognize when we’re ignoring those essential areas of development. So let’s grow forth!
Thanks for reading.