Why I’m Not a Social Wellness Expert

social wellness

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by to read Part Five of my series, How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. I could talk to you about how to form a thriving circle of friends and explain how to maintain these friendships throughout the years. I could even gush about what it’s like to be part of a tight-knit community who goes on retreats together and has monthly slumber parties with bottomless sangria fountains. I could, but I won’t- because I don’t want to be a lying hypocrite.

Honestly, building friendships is my weak spot and my open wound. It’s gone back and forth between being a dull pain and a sharp stab in my heart for many years. I’ve realized that I try to conceal my hurt by acting like I don’t need or want anyone in my life, because they’ll just prove to be another huge disappointment to me. But I actually crave deep, meaningful friendships- not just random acquaintances. I want a close group of girl friends who I can meet up with every week over drinks. I want to discuss our wildest dreams together and laugh about the ridiculous things happening in our lives. Okay, I think I’m describing the plot of Sex and the City, but you get my point! In all reality, I’m pretty jaded in the friendship department and don’t know how to get over years of that negativity.

I’m not going to go into major details about all of the friends in college who let me down or all the people who made me feel unloved and unworthy in my life, but let’s just say it’s enough to make me never want to be vulnerable in making a new friend ever again. So that you can get a quick picture, here are three more recent experiences off the top of my head:

  • I went to the University of Georgia where I didn’t know a single soul and was befriended by a group of three girls at the beginning of my first school year. We hung out all the time, ate every meal together, and had a complete blast. But when I didn’t get into the same sorority that they all got into, they dropped me completely. Not even another text message. When I passed them on the way to classes, they acted like they’d never met me. I felt so alone.
  • Almost all of my college “friends” stood me up (11 people!) for my 21st birthday dinner that I invited them to. They just never showed up and had no excusable reason even though I’d reserved an entire space in a restaurant for the celebration. The waitress kept coming over every few minutes to ask if more people would be joining me. It was hurtful and very humiliating.
  • I’ve lived in Miami for over a year now and the people I often hangout with through my boyfriend still don’t remember my name, They haven’t asked a single question to try and get to know me, and it makes me feel like I’m completely invisible.

I could literally come up with 5,000 other stories from my past similar to these, but you get the gist. I don’t even know if I just pick bad friends who hurt me or if I somehow deserve this treatment. In fact, now, I think I’ve turned into a bad friend myself because I push people away and stop contacting them. I don’t want to get close and be disappointed again. As you can see, it’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy- the social wellness part of my life is what I’d like to call a giant shit show.

Okay, I’m done with being emo! Sometimes we just gotta be vulnerable and get it all out there in the world so that healing can start to happen. So, what does one do when their social life is a crumbling mess? I have no freaking clue! I’m not the expert on this. Though I’m experienced and happy with the other areas of wellness in my life, having healthy friendships is not my forte. The only idea I have is to challenge myself to get out there and try to make a friend. It’s the only way to avoid permanent hermit-hood, right? If you’re feeling lonely or frustrated with your current friendships, give these things a try along with me. In the next month (by December 1st), I will:

1. Go to a Meetup. I think I could find some like-minded people in the following Miami groups: Borderlink (for travelers & curious, culture lovers), Pageturners (a book club), Girls in their 20’s, and the South Florida WordPress Group. I’ve always made friends through work or school though, so this will definitely be a nerve-wracking experience!

2. Ask the girl that I *click* with most at the Meetup to get coffee or brunch sometime soon. This is the hardest part for me. It feels like asking someone out on a date! What if I get rejected? GAH! Sorry for turning you down in the past, boys… I now know how it must feel!

3. Keep in weekly contact with my internet friends. Through blogging and using social media, I’ve started to build connections with some awesome ladies online. I just wish they all lived closer so that we could have beach days together! I’m pretty bad about staying in touch as much as I should to keep relationships alive, so this personality trait needs to change. Contacting each other on a regular basis is half the battle right there.

4. Hangout with an old friend. I desperately need new friends, but continuing to be there for old friends is just as important. Case in point, and my one bit of happy friendship news, is that I’m going to be the Maid of Honor at the wedding of my best friend since middle school! I’m so excited to experience these special life moments with her! Keep cultivating those old friendships- we all need wonderful witnesses to share in the memories of our lives. 🙂

5. Keep being open and vulnerable. Writing such a personal post and talking about my failings in friendship is hard for me. I would much rather keep going on with my life like everything is perfect and like I have a billion friends. But true friendships require each person to be vulnerable and invested. This will be the hardest, but most important, step that we all need to focus on in improving our relationships.

So are you feeling lonely in your social connections? Perhaps you have a lot of protective blockages, just like I do, that keep you from making new friends. If so, I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, and let me know what you’re doing to cope. On the other hand, if you’re awesome at community building and consider yourself a friendship guru, then I’d LOVE to hear your strategies. In fact, it’d be great for you to guest post about it here! Email me at caypugh@gmail.com if you’re interested. 🙂

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

xo Caylee

Two Books to Read This Summer for Self-Improvement

Calm Blue Sea Water Close-Up

If you didn’t know this about me yet, I’ve been obsessed with books since the day I started learning how to read. I always joke and say that, since I’m an only child, reading was the only thing I could do to make time pass by while growing up – but the truth is, I loved all of the different worlds, eras, and cultures I could meld myself into just through looking at some letters on a page. How amazing is that?!

Now that I’m a bit older, I still enjoy an engrossing fiction novel every now and then, but I’ve moved predominantly into the world of nonfiction. Interesting research books, memoirs, and self-help guides are all the rage in my mind. I’m always searching for more insight into human emotions and living more abundantly. More vibrantly. If you’re looking for two beautifully written books to read this summer in the area of self-improvement, look no further:

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Daring Greatly – Brene Brown

Making an impact from the first page, Brene Brown uses Teddy Roosevelt’s powerful quote above as an inspiring call to action – basically, find no shame in failing if you’re brave enough to fight for your cause in the first place. What Brown does in her social science research book, Daring Greatly, is crack open all of the painful, vulnerable feelings that we all have but don’t like to talk about – or even think about. Just contemplating these experiences bubbles up awkward feelings of shame in us.

What makes you feel like your inner soul has been stripped naked for everybody to witness?

Think of this: posting your illustrations (or writing!) online for the world to see and, therefore, exposing yourself to potential criticism, and perhaps even worse – public silence. Or, for instance, getting fired from a glamorous job and being too embarrassed to tell your parents. Or getting cheated on, but feeling so ashamed by it that you lie to your friends about the break-up. All of these situations, and more, make us feel completely bare, so we avoid talking about them. Additionally, many people reject doing the courageous things that the soul craves, because they believe doing them might reveal weaknesses. To diminish this pain, people choose to numb themselves through activities like overeating, drinking alcohol, shopping, or getting lost in video games.

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown encourages readers to step out of their emotional comfort zones in order to own their life stories and connect with people on a raw level. She wants us to tell the truth about our lives. What scares us and makes us feel insignificant? Why are we so afraid to let our true selves be known? It’s because being vulnerable to people is incredibly difficult, and allowing it is something that we all have to work on consciously, everyday.

So put your values and passions out there for the world to see even if you’re afraid that people might think differently of you. Trust me – posting up my writing to this blog gives me shivers most days, but I still make myself do it. Just remember: if anyone doesn’t like you anymore after revealing your true self, they’re not “your people.” Be courageous – dare greatly.

 

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The Blue Zones – Dan Buettner

I’ll admit it. Nonfiction books can be kind of dry or too academic at times. The Blue Zones, by Dan Buettner, completely shatters that stereotype – it’s so interesting and fun to read that I never wanted to put it down!

The first time I was introduced to the concept of “Blue Zones,” was when I visited Costa Rica on a study abroad trip three years ago. It’s one of a small handful of countries that boast a zone with a statistically high proportion of active centenarians – people who live to be at least 100 years-old. Buettner and other world-renowned researches were fascinated by these zones of wellness and wanted to learn how so many people could live to be a century old.

In The Blue Zones, Buettner profiles several areas around the world with this high percentage of healthy, happy centenarians. Places include Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Sardinia (Italy), and the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica). The book dives into research findings for why these seniors are living so long and how we can live our lives that way too. The reasons for their long lives are both cultural and nutritional, but The Blue Zones will definitely inspire you to implement their strategies. After reading about several 103 year-old men and women still tending to their own gardens and laughing over a glass of wine with their other ancient friends, how could you not want to do the same? As you’ll learn in the book, genetics are only about 25% of how well we age – the rest is the lifestyle we choose to live. It’s in your hands!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my reviews and decide to take these inspiring and informative books with you on your remaining summer vacations. Just so that you know – I’ll be writing more specifically about “Blue Zone” lifestyle strategies in the future. So, if you’ve read these two books already, what were your thoughts on them? Do you have any other recommendations for great summer reads? Thank you, and please share below! 🙂

Have a fun weekend,

xo Caylee