Building Lasting Relationships

I’ve never been great at being social. I was a nervous child who rarely spoke out of turn. Add a paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis, and you have a recipe for anti-social behavior. I don’t even really comment on Facebook. I’m one of those incessant likers. I face the fear that something I say will not be appropriate or professional or socially acceptable. Every time I click “post” I have this anxiety that there will be something I said that will offend someone. I’m the same in real life. Sometimes I stutter or struggle to get the right words out, which makes me self-conscious. Balancing schizophrenia and Not Being Awkward is a challenge for me each day.

I read in my psychology textbook about a theory called Psychosocial Development (Sanderson & Huffman, 2017, p. 265). According to Erik Erikson, there are 8 stages of this development to correspond with different age groups across a life span (Sanderson & Huffman, 2017, p. 265). My age group is associated with “intimacy versus isolation (early adulthood) (Sanderson & Huffman, 2017, p. 265). It is defined by “Young adults form lasting, meaningful [relation]ships that help them develop a sense of connectedness and intimacy with others. If not, they become psychologically isolated (Sanderson & Huffman, 2017, p. 265).” When I was doing my assignment this week, which was to identify with some stage of a developmental theory, I realized, “that’s me!” and not in a good way. I am psychologically isolated. It’s true that I go to work each day and I play tennis and I go to class and participate in group discussions, but outside of that, I am psychologically isolated. I spend a lot of time alone. I rarely go out on the weekends and I spent the weekdays locked in my room doing homework (I live with 3 other people).

I recently discovered how much value you can get out of your life each day when it is spent with others. A quote by John Green sums it up well:

“In the end, what you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with.”

Though I have made a conscious effort to work on building more relationships with likeminded people, it is something I have to work at; it doesn’t come naturally to me. Despite this, I never realized that this introvertness I have could be perceived scientifically as a negative thing. I thought my shyness was part of me as much is my love for literature and writing (both very solitary hobbies). Reading this now, I am thankful for the corporate setting filled with wonderful people that I get to embrace every week. Every day I am building more lasting relationships, and this feels like a great accomplishment for someone like me who has spent so much of her life psychologically alone, or, isolated. This is part of my development as an individual, and I feel good about it every time I come out of my comfort zone.

What about you? Are you an introvert or does relationship building come natural to you? Or maybe both?


Allie Burke is a writer and mental health advocate. You can find her literary novel Paper Souls here.

6 thoughts on “Building Lasting Relationships

  1. Gareth Young Reply

    I am definitely psychologically isolated and I’ve become more and more aware that it’s not a good thing. I’m not sure how to fix it at this stage though. I fear I might end up one of those grumpy, old people who scorn the world, but at the same time miss it. I am introverted and shy and, despite my best efforts, it’s hard to deprogram some of the glitches in my system.

    1. Allie Burke Reply

      It is difficult to get out of our comfort zones the older we get. I imagine myself as one of those old people, too, sometimes. I think that’s why I’m trying to grow even the smallest bit when I get the chance. It’s a conscious decision, but it’s not easy, like you said.

  2. Michael Blackwell Reply

    I am definitely an introvert. I am good at making friends. I hear voices. I see things that aren’t there often while I am speaking with others. 5/8th of me is constantly afraid of saying something that will upset people. 1/8 wouldn’t talk to anyone but my “phrens”(what I nickname some of my voices) and the other 1/4th of me is a complete punk and not very nice and doesn’t mind offending people.

    As I type and retype, and edit and delete : ) I definitely have anxiety as well! I think smart people struggle because they have lots of positive ways to look at things. One way to interpret your post would be, “good thing – psychologist” “good thing – friends”, but “also good – alone time” that’s awesome and a great way to live! However, lots of social things are “tell me about problem”,”tell me about a struggle”, if you’re happy with friends and happy while working, that’s all good.

    Also, interesting note about Erik Erikson, he renamed his last name from Homburger to Erikson when he moved to America, “Erik, Son of Erik” Talk about claiming your own identity!

    1. Allie Burke Reply

      That’s an interesting fact. Thank you so much for sharing.

      I think you’re right. The isolation is not always a bad thing. Actually, for some of us, it’s an act of self-care. I think I worry about too much isolation though.

  3. DT Reply

    These posts have made me reflect a lot. Gracias to all of you. I am an introvert. I feel most comfortable and relaxed when I am alone… lost in my own thoughts. However, over the years I’ve learned that I am happiest when enjoying life moments with others. The key word is others….I decided about 5 years ago to intentionally seek out those who create a positive energy that double or triple or quadruple what I can give. Everyday I intentionally seek to spend time with those “others”. It takes a lot of effort and sometimes the “others” don’t have the time or sometimes don’t feel the same way about me. It’s been trial and error but I’ve become skilled at finding the “others” who make me happy. When I’m with “others”…I don’t notice the time and I am completely in the moment. I am one who is on the prowl seeking “others” 24/7. The internet and social media has allowed me to now expand my opportunities to enjoy more happy moments. I’ve found that happiness is within reach and when I’m happy….the whole world joins me……

    1. Allie Burke Reply

      This is such a great way to live – seeking out those that can multiply your happiness. It reminds me of that quote that says “You are the product of your 5 best friends.” If we seek out those who inspire us, it helps us grow.

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