CARLY THINKS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP
Something that has been on my mind lately is friendships. More specifically friendships in adulthood. This is a question I get often and I have to admit it’s something I question myself. I find I’ve done a pretty good job of making friends, but it’s not exactly easy or something I’m naturally inclined to do. I have to force myself to “get out”. I went to meet moms from local Facebook groups, contacted neighbors, exchanged numbers with moms in Jack’s classes, etc. It’s hard because I’m not of here, and Mike is, so I felt like I had to start completely from scratch. Maybe I can do an article about it in the future, although I still feel like I’m in the friendship “building” phase here.
I wanted to talk about something related to friendships which was a very difficult thing to accept, personally. There are two big blockages I have on this subject 1) that is kinda awkward to admit out loud and 2) there’s this stigma of not having a “ton” of friends. As if there had to be something wrong with someone if they didn’t have a million friends or drifted away from other people. Here’s the thing though, and ultimately why I decided to share it. I think that kind of stuff are so common. And this realization that I had, I hope, will lead to better friendships in the future. And maybe my experience will resonate with you.
It recently occurred to me that I haven’t always had the healthiest friendships. I don’t even blame the other people involved, these are all my own problems and it probably (uh definitely) goes back to childhood. I think I was so…. desperate to fit in as a kid, then in middle school and even worse in high school that I would do anything to maintain a friendship, even if it wasn’t reciprocated. See, that’s the part that really bothers me. Like what has been wrong with me that people didn’t want to be my friend? It was probably because I was so desperate to be loved and to have friends that I could never be myself.
It didn’t even occur to me before college and right after college that it was better to be myself and have people like me to me than having to be someone else to be loved. Which, uh. It makes sense now, but it was really an epiphany for me in my early twenties. It probably helped that I was also trying to figure out who I was, instead of just following what I thought I was meant to be. And this realization has been great in many ways. I’m a bit quirky and have my own ways of having fun but over the years I’ve cultivated some amazing friendships where they also like to have fun the same way I do and that’s just so much better everything around. (Sometimes I wonder about the friendships I missed in middle school and high school if I had done the things I had sought doing instead of doing the things I thought everyone liked to do.)
But even though I found friends who were much more aligned with me and loved me for meI don’t think I ever addressed that childhood fear of losing friendships. I always felt desperate to make and keep friends. As if I was constantly worried that someone “would be mad at me.” And I felt like I had to give everything to friendships, whether it was mutual or not.
And, look, I firmly believe that things are never worth relying on. Life comes and goes and sometimes you’ll be the cheerleader and sometimes you’ll be the cheerleader. And it might not even be a 50/50…. but it can’t be then imbalance. This this is where I made some mistakes. In this desperation to one day lose a friend, I had given a lot of myself to friendships without (sometimes) getting any friendship in return.
This all came to me when I felt so incredibly supported by a few of my close friends. I was laying in bed thinking, “Man, I’m so grateful for these friends of mine.” See how great some friends also pointed out how others might not be so great. I didn’t even want to admit it out of, again, embarrassment. My mind immediately jumped to “Well, what’s wrong with me!” But I just think I was holding on to some more scared friendships losing that in name only for what? Fear of embarrassment? Sometimes it’s not that deep and sometimes it’s as simple as a friendship that fades or falls apart and that’s really good.
What’s wrong, at least in my opinion, is not having the same levels of support, especially if it hurts you. It’s like any type of relationship and if it’s one sided, it’s not fair to the other person. Again, it doesn’t have to be exactly 50-50 and there can be natural ebbs and flows….. but it does need to be supported easily from both sides when and as needed.
I finally have those friends who love me, support me and celebrate me for me and nothing brings me more joy than loving, supporting and celebrating them for them! And in this new chapter of life that I am in, I continue to work to add to this group. It made me realize how much it is, worth investing in good friendships. The reward is priceless.