Each Puzzle Piece

I often find myself mindlessly scrolling through various forms of social media and stumbling upon articles and videos. These posts usually make us think that we have some sort of connection with the writer or person who shared the video because it is just oh-so-relatable. Today it seems too easy. We form relationships (real or virtual) based on a couple common interests. I saw that you tweeted lyrics to a song that I love; we must have so much in common. And so we form these connections that rarely even leave the space of social media to become more real and personal (not to mention that they sometimes rarely leave the comfort of our own thoughts). As a member of the human race, I know it’s easier to believe that these simple commonalities can be all that a relationship needs. But what actually matters in creating solid connections with others?

Fire up for CMU students relaxing in the hot tub after going down all of the slides at least three times.

Believe it or not, I think about this quite often. When the CMU Leadership Institute offered me the opportunity to go to the Connections Leadership Conference FOR FREE, you know I was on top of that. Leading up to the event itself, I was never entirely certain of what it was all about. Being unsure is far easier when, no matter what, I know that I get to participate in child-like-wonder at the Great Wolf Lodge’s water park. All twisty-slides aside, I was still looking forward to the conference.

We were seated in a ballroom area around fancy dining tables upon our arrival on Saturday. We were handed some booklets with the schedule and many worksheets pertaining to conference activities. After a nice lunch and some welcoming words, the conference finally began. Only two sessions that I went to were assigned two me and I was able to pick another five that I found interesting. Having that freedom was a conference-first for me and I was crazy about it.

Group work to show how the individual, culture, physical environment, organization, and government all work together.
Group work to show how the individual, culture, physical environment, organization, and government all work together.

Being around so many different CMU students and understanding the various leadership roles they held around campus seemed wonderfully enlightening. While working with countless new student-leaders, I began to see why they called it the Connections Conference. With each session and each activity I found that there are so many resources at my disposal. Between the organizations and the amazing individuals on campus, it seems impossible to feel alone with any goals I may have.

I had a common sense of usefulness throughout every one of my sessions during this conference. They were all useful because they brought up the connections that really matter. After all the wondering and worrying about what really makes a relationship, feelings of relief and satisfaction overcame me.

Finally, a conference that caught my attention and never let it go.

Connections are strong when you talk about what really matters to you in life. Who do you care most about in your life and why? What do you read or hear about in the news that really gets your blood boiling? What are you most happy doing with your free time? What are you most passionate about? More often then not, it is hard to answer these sort of questions without giving it some time and thought. I honestly believe that it shouldn’t have be that way.

It’s easy for us to have faith in petty similarities. It’s easy to avoid vulnerability by only talking about things that you have in common with others instead of saying what you really think and waiting for others to come forward with similar thoughts. We need to start asking the tough questions. We need to start showing others what is really important to us. And I don’t mean your Lulu Lemon $80 leggings, your smart phone, your Cyboard, or when your jeans still fit after the holiday season. In order to make sustainable and truly meaningful connections with others, we have to get real with each other. We have to talk about what we want to do with the rest of our lives and why. I have to admit, it’s a scary place to be–outside of the warm and cozy comfort zone we create for ourselves. But I’d like to know how many great things can happen without taking a step outside of this zone. Movements don’t start with a thought lingering within our heads for a few days and then passing with a sigh and an unfulfilled dream. Big things start to happen when those thoughts and beliefs are shared with others and you begin to see a bigger picture.

Inside and outside of my campus, I see that we all need each other. As students, workers, dreamers, artists, and many more, we each have a piece to offer to each other.  You can only begin to see a beautiful picture when you start bringing the pieces together.

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