T'is the Season

T’is the season for tradition.
Because that’ s what we do.

There’s nothing like good ol’ tradition to perpetuate the status quo. Christmas and the end of the year brings us together for infinite catch-ups and sends many of us into a flurry of buying to give for the sake of giving something.We've all done it and we've all received it. The afterthought present. "Sh*t! What's in the present box? I forgot to buy something for ...."

The façade goes on and on and on.

T’is the season for get-togethers.
Because that’ s what we do.

We joke that Christmas brings out the best in people and that can be true. Strangers wishing each other a merry Christmas or Happy New Year as they pass in a street. And then there’s the flip side. The disfunction brought of expectation, judging and pigeonholing. We put on the face and whatever costume we choose to define us and show up to the gathering of people who know us best (or who we expect to know us best because they’ve known us the longest or they’ve known us through some hardship or other).

T’is the season for “what have you been up to?”
Why oh why would you want to do that?
You did what?

I’ve been working on a lot of projects at once in recent months. Some of which will never be mentionable beyond the vault of a solid friendship. All have had their challenges and forced me to question my priorities and values. Each time I have entertained someone else’s idea of expected outcome, life threw me another random issue to deal with.

Staring down the barrel of uncertainty in so many areas of my life in the same breath, forced me to make unexpected choices. Choices that others clearly, and vocally, thought were absurd.

But we’re taught to trust our peer groups or family. We’re vulnerable because we hope that they see us and trust they really understand us. That when life feels like utter turmoil we support each other. Isn’t that how support networks work? It’s well documented that many of the human needs such as the needs for power, intimacy, approval, achievement and affiliation, are all driven by the need to belong.

If you’ve felt it, you’ll know there’s nothing more lonely than being with people who don’t see you for all your worth. People who judge you based on validating their own choices.

Baumeister and Leary* state “in many cases, people seem reluctant to dissolve even bad or destructive relationships [...] The fact that people resist breaking off an attachment that causes pain attests to how deeply rooted and powerful the need to belong is.”

Where do you want to belong?

T’is the season for reflection. 
Of the past and the present. 

What if the season of New Year Resolutions was also one of owning our choices? T’is also the season for choosing.  You can choose to drop the expectations and decide how and where you belong.

* Baumeister RF & Leary MR 1995, ‘The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation’, Psychological Bulletin, May, 117(3), p497-529.