On Friends

I’m not a “self-help” blog. I’m not a “help you” blog. Some days I just want to write, consider all the angles. I may present difficult, frustrating, or just plain confusing situations we’re all too familiar with, and offer zero solutions. Sometimes I just want to think. Today is one of those days.

It starts simple. You’re making plans for a weekend, and someone has to bail for a previous engagement. Cool, no big, next weekend we’ll get together. Someone never texts back. Man, I know he has a ton going on, he probably let his phone die again. Someone at work gets up and leaves as soon as you walk into an office. Hey, I’d leave too if someone came in talking work at lunchtime! In context, these are neutral actions.

And then they keep happening. In any situation, when there isn’t a balance in positive and negative, we overreact. Neutral becomes negative. Positive feels forced and fake. You begin questioning everything.  ((Or is that just me?)) Keeping the correct perspective is hard. The underlying principle is that rarely are things that happen to us because of us. You can’t take it personally that your friend is pulling away because she’s dealing with her sick cat — even if she didn’t tell you about poor Kitty.

Not helping matters is the overlap between best friends and not friends. I’m not sure if it’s just an Oklahoma/rural/Southern/polite thing, but when you decide a friendship isn’t working out, you don’t make a scene and change your Facebook status like you did for that two-timing ex-boyfriend. You don’t typically even tell them. You just quit. You answer fewer texts, accept fewer invites, skip things like birthdays. And then you both fade into each other’s past. But best friends, especially those two hours apart, don’t text for weeks and rarely get face-to-face, and yet there’s no doubt who the first (okay, maaaaybe second) phone call is when you’re pregnant. Best friends accept it. So when someone doesn’t RSVP to your Super Bowl party, are they easing out of your circle or taking it for granted that you know they’re coming?

Breaking up a work friendship is even harder, because you have to remain on good terms until one of you gets transferred, and there are more witnesses to feel the change in the atmosphere and to comment on it. There is definitely no public telling-off. Ever, lest you start the War Between the Accountants. The rules about forgiving people for focusing on their personal issues instead of calming your abandonment neuroses count twice at work.

To complement our diverse lives, we have friends in all corners of our lives. Luckily, if a church friend is unavailable (physically or emotionally), you have running friends. When people at work are catty, you can take your BFF out for margaritas and pedicures. Overall, your friend bucket is full.

But then what when someone bails on the concert. AND someone never responds to your big news. AND no one wants a ride to team lunch. AND a stranger is rude, and there’s no one interested in listening?

The hits keep coming, and then before you know it, you’re in full-on freak out mode (how are all of my friends turning away at once? Is there some sort of secret alliance??) which is total ridiculousness, but the thoughts are unstoppable.

Of course this isn’t true. There is no way for every person in your life to hate you simultaneously, and they aren’t conspiring to ruin your life. It’s all in your head, baby. What if I’m just that awful? Whatever I did to one person to fall from his graces, I did to someone else too? Do I ask? Is that weird?

Breathe, baby. The world is bigger than you. You will have the people you need, when you need them. Be you, no matter what you think people think about you.

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Until next time,

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