(So, I said this writing challenge wasn’t essential, and yet here I am doing another installment of said challenge. Sigh.)
I’ve never been good at friendship. I was always the shy, quiet one off to the side by myself, or hovering at the edge of the group, wishing I could join while simultaneously wishing I was anywhere else. As I got older, I’ve learned to make friends better, and more easily, but also learned to care less about having a lot of friends. The proverbial quality over quantity, if you will.
This past weekend, I went out with friends to celebrate a birthday. We got to discussing our friendship, and I offhandedly replied that I wouldn’t miss them too much if we stopped being friends. Naturally, it caused shock and outrage in the birthday boy (in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have said that during someone’s birthday dinner, but we were having a deep, meaningful discussion, okay?).
But that’s my truth. You would think that someone who’s struggled with making friends her whole life would cherish the few friends she had more closely. For me, it was the opposite. I think I’ve learned to not hold anything too dearly, for they could be taken away at any time.
Until the last few years, it was hard being my friend. You can always rely on me to help when you need it, but I would never ask you in return. I will listen to all your troubles, and give sage advice. But you will never learn anything about me. And until recently, I wasn’t very empathetic; I didn’t know how to deal with your feelings, and I shut mine down. Or I would overreact when I couldn’t suppress my emotions any longer.
It’s awkward for me when someone values our friendship more than I do. My default is to believe I’m the one who values our friendship more. (Because of my confidence issues and whatnot – people actually wanting to be my friend? What?) I tend to be the one to plan outings and events; it makes me feel like I’m always the one initiating things. But I’ve come to realize that’s because I’m the only one who cares about planning. I am a meticulous planner; only recently have I learned to adapt easily to changes in plans. What we did probably didn’t matter to my friends so much as who we were with. And I think I’ve become more like that as well.
Which brings me back to the not missing friends part. I’ve come to accept that things are what they are. People will come in and out of my life; perhaps the universe only meant them to be here for a specific reason. Once their purpose in my life is fulfilled, they move on. And, if they were meant to be a part of my life, they will come back one day.
As an adult, making friends is harder. But I am better at making friends now. I know who I am and what I value. Because of that, I can choose to spend time with people who enrich my life. I can develop deeper, more meaningful connections with those people, instead of wasting time on superficial relationships.
I won’t miss you, because our relationship has been woven into the fabric of who I am.
Edit: How interesting! Following on the heels of my epiphany on friendship, Eric Barker wrote a post on making close friends :).