At Arm’s Length

As a young girl, I was always very outgoing and silly. I enjoyed smiling, laughing, and joking around. I also had a huge passion for making other people laugh. I wanted to see everyone with a smile on their face.

During my teenage years, I became withdrawn. I started dealing with anxiety and depression that stemmed from extreme social anxiety. I spoke to a few friends, but it was all small talk. The middle school years and most of my high school years were very trying times for me.

Young adulthood soon approached and slowly by slowly, I started coming out of my shell and gaining back confidence in myself. I started regularly socializing and opening myself up to others. I had many learning experiences with my group of friends and when I started dating. Not all of these were positive, many were detrimental to my sense of self and my trust in others.

My Personality

I have always been someone that loves to care for others. I am very empathetic, and I always want to lend a helping hand. I enjoy sitting down and connecting with other people. If I can be of any sort of help, even just by listening, then my day has been made.

Because of my kind and helping nature, I have been taken advantage of more times than I can count. I have seen many fair-weather friends. It really is sad to me that so many people take advantage of others because they are good-hearted. It is not in my nature to ever do that to someone.

Over Time

The life experiences that we go through can make or break us. Sure, we can keep a positive mindset and that helps tremendously, but we don’t forget the way that others have treated us in the past. Though much of this comes within, pleasant experiences will help our confidence and self-esteem. Experiences that cause us suffering can lead to mental health issues, lower self-esteem, and issues with trust.

The latter is a big one for me. I have had many experiences where people have taken advantage of my personality, ones that appeared to be the most loyal friends that ended up leaving and relationships where there was much dishonesty. Over time, it really weighed on me. Naturally, I decided to put a wall up.


I am thankful to have a good group of friends today. I am close with only a select few, however. Many are acquaintances or good friends, but very few are best friends and ones that I can open my heart to. I am not an open book, and it takes a very long time to gain my trust and be open and vulnerable. I don’t want to be this way, I want to be able to trust everyone that I meet until they prove untrustworthy, however, the very people that I trusted to never hurt me ended up doing so in more ways than one.

I keep most people at arm’s length. I am trying hard to change this. I strive to be authentic and vulnerable; it is no easy feat. I am very friendly but also very slow to get to know. I used to put everything out there, but now my heart is guarded. I would like to unblock this energy and be able to see other people without a sense of fear. Sometimes I wonder if I am not able to pick up signs and red flags as well as others. Sometimes I think that I see people in only a good light, and I fail to spot someone who is not genuine.

I love to get to know others. I love it when they open up their hearts and minds to me, it fosters such a beautiful connection. Relationships are a two-way street and I know that if I don’t share my heart with the ones that are sharing it with me, it will be a one-sided relationship. Others may not feel as strong of a connection to me if I don’t reciprocate the intimacy and connection. I admire so much when I see two people in a loving relationship or in a deep friendship. I wonder to myself “how do they do it!?”

Knowing where we fall short and what we want to change is a huge step in the right direction. I hope that in time, I will be able to tear down these walls.


Debating on Whether to Reach Out

A few years ago, I was working with a large group of people. We all became like a family. Our job in the medical field was a tough one and that lead to many stressful days and burnout. We were there to support each other and build each other up. Due to the stress of the job, we also dealt with several strong emotions and conflicts with each other.

Despite the ups and downs of this “family,” working here was one of my favorite experiences and one of my favorite jobs. I met so many beautiful souls and I still keep in touch with many of them today. They have changed my life and shown me what true support and friendship are. There is, however, one individual that I lost contact with, and it’s been on my mind since if I should try to reach out one last time.

Here’s the Story

One of the young ladies that worked there became one of my closest friends, we will call her Sara. She would often call me “sister”. So many people often made comments that we look alike, which made the name even more endearing. We always had each other’s backs and were there to support each other through the stress, trials, challenges, tears, and joy.

We kept each other up to date on our lives and I felt like someone understood me. I felt that she was a true friend, and I was so thankful. We were both dealing with major life changes, and we knew that we could rely on each other for support and laughter to get us through.

A few years ago, I had to leave this job unexpectedly due to a life circumstance. I was so sad to leave, and I was especially sad to leave behind my work family. At the same time, I was relieved to not have so much stress in my life from this job. Sara was sad to see me leave because we were partners in crime. She then transferred over to a different department within the company. We remained in touch for a few years.

A Change

I noticed that Sara was becoming more distant and taking a long time to respond to my messages. I chalked it up to her being busy and didn’t think much of it. She would check in with me to see how I was doing and what was going on with my life, but she didn’t want to talk about hers. It dawned on me that maybe something wasn’t right. I asked her how she was doing and that I noticed that she was acting differently. She told me that she was “trying to keep her depression away.” I sent her a comforting message letting her know that I was there for her if she wanted to talk and then I gave her some space.

I decided to send Sara a message about a month after this just saying that I was thinking of her, however, she never responded. I waited for a few weeks and just sent a message saying hello, but no response. Considering the last thing that she told me was that she was trying to keep her depression at bay, naturally, I was very concerned. I know that she is at least physically okay, but mentally I am not sure because she never responded.

My Thoughts

I have dealt with depression on and off since my teenage years. It has reached a definite low point, but for the most part, I am fairly functional. I have taken great steps in the last several years that have helped me live a much happier life but feeling down still creeps in from time to time. I know with some people that the mere act of getting out of bed is too much, I have heard of the ways that depression can be absolutely debilitating. I still have a burning question in the back of my mind.

Do I reach out? Not answering my text is an answer, however, given the circumstances, it’s hard to know what to do. You want someone to know that you are there for them, but you don’t want to cross the line. I have noticed that sometimes those struggling with depression appreciate the nudge and the fact that someone cares enough about them even when they don’t necessarily feel like talking. Others want to be left alone. It’s a fine line to walk. I would appreciate any advice from others who may have been in a similar situation. It has been a few months and no word from Sara. 

Possibly this is a friendship that has ended, or maybe when she’s feeling better it will pick up where it left off…only time will tell.

Someone Has to Make the First Move

Think of a game of chess. Two people are sitting together ready to make a move. One player has to make the first move and a chain reaction follows. The players keep taking turns, each action forms a reaction, and the chain goes on.

Just like a game of chess, the people and situations in our lives also live by this rule. Someone has to make the first move. Sure, things just randomly happen in life, but overall, they are the result of actions.

Life Examples

Imagine yourself at a wedding in which you don’t know anyone else, you are just there supporting the two individuals about to get married. You look around at the groups of family and friends and can’t help but feel out of place as you are there solo.

If it weren’t for your love of the two people getting married, you wouldn’t have gone at all. You have two options. You can sit quietly and take it all in, or you can branch out and walk over and say hi to some of the other guests. Either way, there is no right or wrong, but choosing to walk over and talk with others could change your day and possibly your life. 

Imagine if one of the people that you spoke to became your best friend over time, or that they knew someone and introduced you and then you two become lovers.

The Dating World 

It is often up for debate who should make the first move in the dating world. Sometimes meeting someone happens by fate and there was not much initiating, but much of the time, someone had to be bold enough to make the first move.

Picture yourself at a bar, restaurant, gathering, or any other social event. You may find others that pique your interest and that you would love to get to know better. Many times, the two individuals sit admiring each other from across the room, but no one makes a move, and the opportunity is lost. 

It’s natural to be scared and not want to approach others first. If no one chooses to step up first, then there is a great chance that we will be left dreaming, hoping, and imagining what could be. I am also a big believer in fate, however, so I feel that if something is truly meant to be it will happen even if it takes a miracle.


If we are wanting a new job, we could sit back and hope for the right circumstances and job to present themselves to us. We may want to wait until life calms down a bit before pursuing a new career, but truth be told, life never really calms down!

We spend time fixing up our resumes, and we apply for jobs that interest us. We have made the first move. The chain reaction that follows is hopefully being contacted by a prospective employer for an interview, which will then hopefully land us a new job. Your hard work has set off a reaction!

Fear Limits Us

Fear limits many things in our lives. We may avoid certain situations and people because we are afraid of the reactions of others and how the situation will play out. We don’t want to feel rejected or misunderstood and sometimes not taking a chance at all feels like the safest option.

While it may be the safest, there is no room for growth and happiness to expand in our lives. We may end up stuck in the same rut out of fear of change. We should try to be proactive with the things that we want in life. Many times, it is worth the risk!

In life, we must try to take every chance that we get no matter how scared because something really beautiful might be on the other side.

Lean on Me

Life is hard and it has many challenges along the way. We will have many experiences, detours, and roadblocks ahead of us. I suppose one of the most interesting things about life is that no one knows what is in store for us. One thing is for sure, it will be a mix of bliss and trials.

Many of us have someone that we can rely on in times of need, many people do not have anyone at all. This world is difficult enough to navigate, it’s even harder if we do it alone.

My Past

Growing up, I was a very outgoing and goofy little girl. I would do anything to make people laugh and I just loved to be in the company of others. This somehow changed drastically as I got older.

That outgoing fun-loving little girl became a very self-conscious and shy teenager. Once I experienced this shift, I internalized everything and no longer was open with my feelings. I had such bad social anxiety that I didn’t know what to say to anyone, or how to act around others. I experienced some very hard times, and I didn’t let anyone in on it.

Dear Diary

I took to diary entries and journaling to try to make sense of my emotions and what I was going through. It felt great to write it all down, but it also still felt like I was missing something.

I remember watching some of my favorite reality shows and just studying their behavior and ways of communicating. I was in awe of how they could be so real, vulnerable, and open. I aspired to be that, but I was far from it.

Fast-forward to today and I still struggle with being 100% authentic, I still struggle with sharing my emotions because I am afraid of rejection and that people won’t care what I have to say. I am afraid of people not responding, or that they will view me differently.

Slowly by slowly I am coming out of my shell and transitioning back to the carefree and bubbly child that I was. I am not there yet and may never be, but I am taking baby steps to move my life in the right direction.

People Come and Go

I have had my fair share of fair-weather friends, relationships with significant others that went south, and sadly many people who have left my life due to passing away. All of this loss truly takes a toll on me and makes me retreat even more.

It’s very challenging to be open and vulnerable with others just because of the mere fact that they one day may not be there. I have to remind myself of the benefits. We can’t know how a relationship will progress if intimacy is never obtained between two people.

A Burden Shared

One of life’s greatest joys is the ability to help others. There is nothing like seeing happy tears or a smile on someone’s face because you made a difference in their life. We know how empowering it is and what a great mood booster it is to be able to help someone and make a difference in this world no matter how small. What if we chose to not let anyone help us? This great feeling would never be able to be felt.

Connection and bonding are very important and essential to human life. We need each other. Some people may need a human connection less than others, but to some degree, needing others is necessary for our lives and for our well-being. Most of us get great joy from helping others and they want to be able to experience this lovely feeling as well when they get the chance to help us.

Other people can help us carry our burdens so that we don’t feel so alone and we can lessen the weight of the struggles that we face. Helping someone is mutually beneficial. The receiver feels loved and cared for and the giver has the great satisfaction of knowing that they made a difference in someone’s life.

Life’s Winding Path

One thing is for sure and that is that life will take us in many different directions. It can help take the stress off a bit when we know that we have people in our corner that are here for us. The love and compassion that you give to others deserve to come back to you. People need each other, it’s a two-way street.

You can lean on me, my writer friends. I am here for you and in your corner.

Subconscious Relationship Expectations

Take a moment to think of your friendship circle, family, or even the ones that you hold dear. These relationships probably come with the expectation that you will care for them, and they will care for you. After all, this is what a relationship is about, two or more people who mutually respect and care for each other.

While this is true, sometimes we may not realize that we are placing certain expectations on other people that only end up harming ourselves and our relationships.

Closest Relationships

Think about the people that are closest to you at the moment. This could be your parents, siblings, best friend, significant other, or spouse. These are probably the individuals that you turn to when going through a hard time and to share your happiest news. You may have one or two people that you rely on.

While it is wonderful and necessary to rely on others for support, it is important to remember that one person cannot fulfill all of our needs. That’s the beautiful side of having multiple people in our lives, we can draw strength from them. Each person can bring something to the table.


It is normal to turn to your best friend or significant other and we may lovingly look at them as if they have all of the answers and that they can fill every void that lives within us. These are unfair expectations for both the other person and ourselves.

Each person that we know brings something to our lives. One person is only one person and as hard as they try, no one can take on the role of making us happy 100% of the time. We can look to others and most importantly ourselves for that sense of fulfillment.


The beauty of life is helping and also being helped. Returning the love and respect that is given to us is very important.

Just as one person cannot be our complete source of happiness, we also cannot be that for other people.

As human beings, we are capable of so much. We often have the strength and power to move mountains, but we also have our limits. Giving and receiving makes the world go round. We must remember, however, that we are not superheroes!