You’ll Be Amazed How Many People Support You
By Jacey Eckhart
I’ll bet you have at least five circles of support around you during your Next Door Project. Really.
Mostly we ignore this fact because we are Americans, prideful and convinced we need to do everything all by ourselves. In our arrogance, we act as if we are setting out on the wide prairie with nothing but a covered wagon and a mule named Sal, instead of driving past a Starbucks right this very minute.
When you are going through a major life change to get to your Next Door Project, one of the best things you can do is identify your circles of support—either in your mind or on my handy-dandy worksheet.
1. YOUR INNERMOST CIRCLE
Fill in the innermost circle with the names of the adults whose fates are most entwined with yours. This circle is usually you, plus one or two other proactive people. These folks can’t really be happy unless you are happy, which is probably why dogs often nose their way into this category, but I can’t stop them because they will insist on love-giving even when they have bad breath.
2. YOUR TRUST CIRCLE
These are the people who are worthy of your deepest trust. You talk to them nearly every day. You can ask and do ask each other for help from time to time. This circle often includes your kids, your best girlfriends, and the extra good bits of your family. (Especially you, Mom). Please note: Loneliness is a thing in our culture. According to a 2009 study by Pew Research, although rare, 6% of the adult population reports they have no one with whom they can discuss important matters or who they consider to be “especially significant.” Draw someone in today or at least include him or her in your kindness circle.
3. YOUR KINDNESS CIRCLE
Jot down a few names of the people who have recently offered you (or you offered them) a spontaneous act of kindness (like an extra shot in your latte, barista friends). You could also ask them for an occasional favor. This circle could include work friends, the other parents you usually sit with at the gymnastics meet, dog parents at the park, the reasonable members of your family, and everyone else who would call the cops if you left your car running on the street and mysteriously disappeared without a trace.
4. YOUR GALAXY
There are plenty of people in your world, but they are not in your daily/weekly/monthly orbit. These are the people who let you into traffic, who park only in their own parking places, who pay their taxes so you have good roads to drive on. For a moment, let yourself think of all your nice in-groups, like other people who know all the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” people who go to minor league baseball games, newspaper subscribers, dessert eaters who drive the need for really gigantic coconut macaroons, and people who love Grover. Because I don’t think Grover gets nearly enough play time, do you?
5. OUTER SPACE
The world is a pretty good place full of mostly good people who wish you well. Like me! Sure, there are all kinds of bad actors in the world, but we outnumber them. Look at a map and think of all the people in all of the other countries who are trying to fall in love and stay in love, get jobs that pay the bills, raise their children to be good people, feed cats, and glare at their mothers-in-law. We are a world full of people tackling our significant life changes the best we can, facing our monsters and knocking on doors. We could all use a little more support in this world. Even you.