I’d like to start a healthy conversation about, possibly ironically, the topic of communication.
I wrote this little blog the other day and I saw a few Facebook commenters respond that not texting or calling someone back immediately is selfish and, essentially, rude. However, I completely disagree. Here’s why.
I wear a lot of name tags these days. Some of these name tags are currently more important to me than others. For example, the label “mom” is a top priority. Yet even before I was a mother, I wasn’t someone who was tied to a cell phone.
I was nearly 30 when I got my first cell phone (that was only a few years ago, by the way) and I didn’t get a smartphone until this year.
In other words, texting and making phone calls are not on my highest list of priorities.
This said, I have a lot of long-distance friends. I’ve moved around a little bit and I’ve had the good fortune to meet some genuinely wonderful people wherever I’ve been. (And long-distance friendships generally require phone-style communication.)
Still, I’m a mom (which, as I’ve stated, is always a priority). This means that there are days when my energy is low and I only have so much to go around. So guess who will be on the receiving end of my energy? Yep—my little girl.
There are also days when my energy is high and I’m writing or doing other things that are a part of my life like practicing yoga or going on walks outside with my child.
In short, I’m taking care of my own needs by practicing self-love and self-care.
And that doesn’t mean your phone call was not important to me. It was, because you are, my friend. But I didn’t have my phone in my pocket, or even in the same room, while I was reading to my daughter or eating lunch with her. I didn’t have my phone close at hand when I was writing either. Additionally, a home yoga practice doesn’t mean that I’m asana-ing out by my phone, pausing and answering calls because I’m not in a no-phones-allowed classroom setting.
Because I practice yoga when I’m not on a mat too—I sincerely try as hard as I can to be in the current moment completely. And that moment involved listening to a four year old sing her favorite song or working on my next book—not popping on my iPhone to text every few minutes.
At the same time, those Facebook commenters that I mentioned brought up discussion points along the lines of, “He never texted me back.” Um, yeah—I’m wagering that you are in an entirely different conversation.
If you attempt contact with “a friend” and this “friend” never gets back to you, this probably is a not-so-subtle and, yes, possibly-immature-yet-obvious way of saying that he or she isn’t actually your pal.
But, for the vast majority of us who think that we need to instantly respond to a text message or always answer the phone, even when it’s a bad time for us, I’m offering up this: that self-care and self-love (the kinds of love that lead to truly loving others) actually begin when we pay more attention to our lives, to ourselves and not to an inanimate object that we mistakenly think needs our attention 24/7.
Because it’s true that people in our lives deserve our attention. And this can mean not answering our phones while having lunch with someone else.
It can mean leaving the phone alone when we’re in an actual face-to-face conversation with another human being. And it can also mean returning that phone call or text when we choose to and not out of some impatient, arbitrary obligation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not trying to start a “don’t-return-texts-and-calls” revolution, but I am suggesting that, perhaps, putting down our phones might just lead to actual interactions with human beings, in real time.
Shouldn’t that, more often than not, get the priority?
Why exactly does that text have to be sent now as opposed to 20 minutes from now, or even tomorrow?
After all, most of us have jobs or school or something of importance that should be taking most of our attention throughout our day. Believe it or not, I (and a lot of other people) grew up waaaay before cell phones and we managed to both survive and have thriving relationships.
So, yeah, I wrote this little blog the other day letting a few people in my life know that I appreciate hearing from them (always), but that they might not hear back from me right away.
And though this doesn’t lessen their importance in my life, it does ensure that other people, like my child, are made to feel important, valued and loved. It also means that when I do give you a call, that my attention is yours completely.
More, I’m establishing my own importance in my own life—and this attentive relationship with my needs ultimately helps me best love the people I choose to have in my life.
Go ahead and call that selfish. I’m going to choose a different label for my set of name tags: love.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wiki Commons