I feel like every other phrase spoken here on base is “I love you”.
We say it a lot.
We say it and we mean it.
In our first two weeks here we made the decision to be very vulnerable with each other. It’s something that I fear but something that I have learned a lot about this summer. I told these guys things about myself that I’ve never shared with another human being. We were open and honest about the difficulties of our past and our dreams for the future. Now we’ve lived together for almost 11 weeks; ate, slept and worked together almost 24hours a day for 73 days – we know each other. And we love one another.
Something else which I had to get used to was an atmosphere of encouragement and affirmation. Left, right and center people would be telling me things they saw in me, qualities they appreciated, things they were grateful that I’d done. I had to adjust to the positivity – there was a severe lack of sarcasm, mockery and derogatory comments. This loving generosity was not the stingy, satirical, scottishness I was used to. I soon found that as I became more comfortable with receiving encouragements, I became more comfortable with giving them. I was able to shirk off my good British reserve and speak truth to people without getting all self conscious or feeling like I was encroaching upon some unspoken personal boundary.
Another thing which arose very quickly after we arrived was talk of the “5 love languages“; and which one we each identified with. We would discuss at length whether we were “words of affirmation”, “quality time”, “receiving gifts”, “acts of service” or “physical touch” kind of people. I was pretty certain I was a service/gifts kind of girl but it turns out I’m as huggy as they come and if someone isn’t, I just don’t know how to relate or communicate affection to the point that it stresses me out. I’m a hugger. Y’all are going to have to deal with it.
So, we tell each other how much we love each other: a lot. And we mean it. We’re this dysfunctional little family that knows each other’s dirty laundry but also sees how beautiful and uniquely wonderful we each are and we’re not afraid to tell each other. And there are lots of hugs, for no apparent reason.
I’m going to attempt to bring this home. Less of the sarcasm, less of the cynicism and more willingness to affirm people and say nice things about them to them.