04: Missed connections.

- June 19, 2016 -

I always liked the term ‘missed connections.’ Even in its extreme brevity, it manages to convey a sense of hope. Missed connections, implying the possibility of a future attempt and a second chance.

A missed connection is a story unfinished. It is a patchwork of what-ifs and a loose, dangling thread of if-onlys. That, I think, is why we often can’t stop thinking about them: there is so much possibility surrounding a missed connection that we simply can’t help but wonder what might have been.

For this reason, missed connections used to make me feel deeply upset. I would get so wound up in all of the possibilities, the what-ifs and the if-onlys, that I would feel a tangible sense of loss with each one. But, now, I longer feel that way.

The more time I spend thinking about my life, and the kind of life that, going forward, I want to have and create for myself, I realize that I don’t want to cultivate relationships that are based solely on convenience. I want to fill my life with people who want to be there and have worked to be there. It’s one thing to meet someone new and have an amazing first encounter, but it’s something else entirely to put in the necessary time and effort it takes to build and sustain a lasting relationship.

The phenomenon of missed connections, I think, primarily refers to those soul-stirring chance encounters with strangers that we sometimes get to experience. But, lately, I’ve also come to apply the term ‘missed connection’ to all of the relationships in my life which, for one reason or another, simply didn’t pan out.

Why? Because I truly believe that we remain linked to all of the people we have come into contact with in our lives, regardless of whether or not we continue to remain in physical proximity to them. We have all been affected in some way, big or small, by every single person that we’ve ever come into contact with — and, likewise, every single person that we’ve ever interacted with has, in some way, been affected by us.

In my experience, whether or not we continue to stay in touch with those people often has less to do with how much we like or dislike them than it does with how willing (and able) we are to commit to building that relationship. Some people — many people, in fact — simply aren’t able to create that kind of space in their lives. But it doesn’t mean that they’ll never be able to, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t want to.

And so, I no longer assume that a parting of ways will be permanent, and I no longer assume that it’s the result of some deep, unresolvable incompatibility. Instead, I simply think of it as a missed connection: it is a story unfinished, and there is a good chance that, one day, the story will continue.


– J


This piece comes from Jana Marie’s newsletter, The Sunday Letters. You can sign up to receive future editions below.