As summer begins to wind down and students everywhere are getting ready to go back to school, I begin to ponder the topic of friendship. Whether someone has entered your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, I think about what it takes for some to nourish the connection and some to not nourish, especially those friendships within the school system.

I think about middle school and high school and how difficult it is for some students to fit in.

Connecting Friends

The connection of friends and what constitutes the popular categories of fitting in has always been baffling to me. What deems someone worthy of being the keeper of what is cool in school and what is not? More importantly, why does it matter? What is so difficult about accepting others and their differences and abilities?

I think about the popularity piece in school and how someone may feel less than adequate. The less than adequate would equate to feeling left out or not measuring up to a standard that has been set – but set by whom? I know at this point, I have some rambling thoughts, but then again, this whole topic of “fitting in” is confusing, at best.

I think in society today when someone feels inadequate or left out, seclusion and isolation begin to occur and then it festers. I think about how difficult it may be for some to get themselves out of that darkness. Finding ways to become secure and self-assured is what makes that person unique, but it is difficult. However, once that happens, we don’t have to worry about fitting in, because we have become cool in our own eyes, and then, we become strong enough to not care who doesn’t accept our own unique self that we have created.

Losing Friends

But what happens when we make a friend and then we lose that person? Whether it be someone who entered our life for a quick interaction or from a lifetime of interactions, when we lose a friend, from death or just because the relationship ended, our emotions become pulled in many different ways.

A loss occurs, regardless of the connection, and depending on how deeply connected we were with that person, the pain of the loss can last for a season or even a lifetime.

Always having a support team around us is most important in those moments of distress. However, even in times of support, feelings of being alone can still be profound. The result, I believe, is that we become different from the norm and no longer seem to fit in anymore. 

But what is it about loss that causes one to feel alone? I think the depth of loneliness is different for everyone, but the reason for the pain is that our psyche craves what we no longer have in our lives, our social interactions no longer meet what we expect them to be.

Being a Family Caregiver

Could that be true for family caregivers? Can the lack of personal space and a decrease in social interaction caused by the tasks and demands of providing care contribute to loneliness? Caregiver studies indicate that loss and a lack of power, strength, and too much responsibility are contributing factors to loneliness. Opportunities to provide a break and creating space for social inclusion are important.

Creating Programs That Connect Friends

At Hope Grows, we are working to bridge the gap for family caregivers and their children with special needs. By creating a program that helps connect friends to Grow Together™, families and children with special needs will have the opportunity for empowerment, social connection, and a break from the tasks and demands. Our Take a Break in the Dirt program is being redefined to continue to build these connections so that communities can Grow Together with Take a Break™.  In the meantime, contact Hope Grows if you are struggling with loneliness. Remember, you have a friend in Hope Grows.