In the summer I finally feel like I can call people. There’s no homework assignment I need to do, or group I need to meet for a project, or test looming over my head. At the same time, though, there are so many more people to call over the summer! I’m not around most of my friends, so staying in touch requires making the effort.
We often don’t take the time to call people. Texting is easier, doesn’t require as much planning, can be done while multitasking, and can often leave out emotions that would make conversations longer. Yet there’s something about calling someone: having to respond immediately, feeling the energy of the person on the other end, hearing somebody’s real emotions, being able to clarify and to understand more deeply, and more opportunities for those beautiful shared moments of laughing or crying together.
This post is really to encourage you to call someone. Maybe just your parents, or maybe your friend from sixth grade who you haven’t talked to in years, or that ex-boyfriend to whom you never quite explained yourself, or your great grandmother who lives alone all the way across the country, or your best friend who you think about all the time but don’t take the time to call.
Phone calls help you learn. I had a wonderful conversation with Matthew King a few weeks ago. I just sent him a simple text, “Hey… I want you to teach me more about foreign affairs.” And he replied, “Well I want to know about education policy!” And the next night we had a 45-minute phone conversation about our academic interests. (Most of it was him teaching me foreign affairs, because there aren’t many things Matthew doesn’t know…. But, hey, we at least tried to make it a mutually beneficial conversation).
Phone calls remind you that other people are doing cool things and part of being a friend is being invested in those cool things. Meade called me after her hiking trip and I got to hear her joyfully recount her favorite memories from the hike. There’s something about hearing someone’s happy emotions and imagining in your head exactly how that person is acting. Our smiles were bigger than our iPhones and our laughs were genuine. When your favorite people are doing well, it makes you feel like you’re doing well, too.
Where texting can make people hide behind realities and sugarcoat feelings, phone conversations create a healthy mask that encourage deeper vulnerability. Chandler and I continue to have such real conversations about how we’re actually doing. We don’t sugarcoat anything and we’re honest when things look like they’re great but under the surface are really not. Calling each other allows us to continue to have vulnerable conversations even though we’re not together. And certain stories or thoughts or feelings that might have been hard to say to her face, I feel more confident to admit and discuss.
I had an incredible talk with Holly Bischoff about my last blog post. She called me after I posted it, and spent an hour with me as she poured out all of her deepest insecurities and told me over and over again that I am not alone. She pointed me back to the One person who makes things better, and she did a beautiful job of pointing out how my insecurities are rooted in lies.
Phone calls remind you what qualities you love best in people. Throughout my conversation with Jared, I was reminded of his hilarious, joyful, distracted, unique (in the best way possible) personality. I could practically feel his smile through the phone.
My cousin, Kristin, is one of the most amazing people I know. (Yeah, I say that about everyone…. But she’s sooooo cool.) She’s so freespirited, hilarious, and down to earth. Whenever we talk she says exactly what she’s thinking. Our last conversation was her telling me about how she impulsively bought a bike to ride to work so she could unleash her hippie side. Which was a week after she called to tell me she was going to come all the way from Nashville to a beach in North Carolina for Fourth of July. And two weeks after she switched jobs. For someone like me who likes clear plans and routine, she is my complete opposite. So I love talking to her and learning how to loosen up and love life more.
My first two weeks in DC I was alone in a 6-person apartment. One night I kept hearing strange noises, so I called my parents. I talked to them on speakerphone for two hours that night, blabbing away so as not to freak out about the possibility of a bad guy breaking into my apartment (Yes, I still have 5-year-old fears). It was so nice, though, because the conversation was natural and was essentially just telling each other what exactly we were doing and what was new. Fast-paced people don’t stop to have casual conversations anymore, but times when you call someone without a purpose are great for that.
Betsy and I call each other and essentially spend every conversation talking about all the things we want to do together. It’s always super exciting but then slightly depressing because once we hang up I always think, “Will we ever actually do those things….” One time we even made a GoogleDoc to write down all of our ideas so we wouldn’t forget them and could check off each project once we completed it. I think we got through, like, #3. Oh well, at least we have big dreams!
These are just a few examples of the amazing conversations I’ve had this summer. And it’s not to discount the ones I’ve had over texting (like incredibly amazing ones with Carolyn, Sara, Ryan, and especially with Luke), but it is to draw attention to the fact that real-time phone calls have a way of bringing people together.
So I encourage you to call someone. Maybe just your parents, or maybe your friend from sixth grade who you haven’t talked to in years, or that ex-boyfriend to whom you never quite explained yourself, or your great grandmother who lives alone all the way across the country, or your best friend who you think about all the time but don’t take the time to call. We all could use a few more real, deep, meaningful, purposeful conversations. And after you’ve called someone, make it a habit. Keep calling him back. And then maybe he’ll even start calling you, too.