Can I get honest with yall for a minute?
I’ve been that socially awkward girl as long as I can remember. These days, being awkward is like a badge of honor, everyone wants to be different…showcase their quirk…but social anxiety is nothing to showcase. It’s a frustratingly isolating experience that you desperately wish to conquer, but….
I put dots there because I have yet to fully conquer this enemy in my life -but I’m confidently winning the war.
Some doctors insist it has to do with my childhood traumas. It’s hard to form bonds with people when the primary people you were supposed to bond with weren’t there. It’s difficult to overcome the feeling of “not belonging” when you’re treated as an afterthought by individuals who should’ve made you a forethought, daily.
Ahh, but this isn’t about them. It’s about me. What they did or did not do is done. It cannot be undone. All I can focus on is moving forward and using my past as source of wisdom and understanding. To do this, I must be honest…with myself, with others…otherwise it will never work.
I confess – Friendship.
I used to say people had to accept me as I am to be my friend, but now not so much. I had to realize that the same way people have dealbreakers in relationships, so it is in friendships.
At 35 years old, I’m only now beginning to understand my socially awkward ahh can’t always be what they need. I would engage these amazing women who were incredibly outgoing and maintained large friend bases and social calendars because (I suspect) I was subconsciously trying to gleam some of their charisma and social confidence.
At the same time, I found myself trying to be someone I wasn’t. I had to intoxicate myself to endure social situations. It was exhausting, and inauthentic. So, I’d fall by the wayside.
Then, I’d get in my feelings about it all. I’d feed myself the usual lines that reinforced my feelings of victimization.
“She ain’t called me….so I ain’t calling her, hell.”
“Oh, they can call me when they need something, but it’s crickets now…”
“She acting brand new with all her new friends”
“I’m going through such and such and she aint bothered to check on me….I’m good.”
and the infamous,
“FUCK -INSERT NAME OF PERSON HERE-. They clearly weren’t ever my friend in the first place.”
The pain is evident in each of my comments. People don’t respond with such emotions to events that truly do not bother then. The emotional tantrums I (we) throw to prove I (we) don’t care and/or don’t need anyone actually prove how desperately we do….
Initially, I allowed my ego to do what we do when we are hurting or we miss someone – act like we don’t care – but that was far from the truth. I care, deeply.
Then, one day my Spirit challenged me to tell the truth about my feelings on this subject.
I was complaining about some friends I felt abandoned me when I was reminded of the ways I’d abandoned them too. I can admit I’m a great friend in some areas, but a terrible friend in others:
I suck at supporting my friends in-person if they live more than a few miles away – this is strictly due to my not driving. I suck at calling friends on the phone. I suck at being that friend who will come sit at your house, with no actual purpose other than looking in your face. I suck at being that friend who wants to go to clubbing, or house partying, or anything else you’re doing that involves a large group of people….a lot of drinking….loud music…and the likes. That’s NOT my scene as much as I try to make it my scene, it is not. I suck at it. I also suck at being a consistent physical presence in my friend’s life because of my excessive need for peace and solitude.
At the same time. I am that friend who will pray with you and for you consistently. The one you call when life is overwhelming and you just need a kind, encouraging, or peaceful word. The one who will be a light in darkness and support when others have turned away. I’ll do whatever I can to help you with life’s most difficult and remind you how valuable and amazing you are….I will expend my own resources and time to help you see your dreams fulfilled. I’m the one who pops in your brain when the shit hits the fan and you need sound support, not just a good time.
I ask the hard questions and challenge you to face yourself.
I’m the “serious” friend, the “responsible” friend; but, may I be honest?
That shit gets OLD. You start to feel used.
I get it though. I don’t drive (I can but my anxiety gets so bad on the road, I don’t) so that severely limits my social life. I don’t live near most of the women I consider good friends – they’re in other cities, states. Asking someone to drive to me all the time can be a nuisance. I realize, my inability to do this thing (drive) causes me to not be there for my friends for things that are important to them -social events, outings, certain celebrations. Eventually, my not showing up gets old and they seek out women who can “show up”.
And I fall by the wayside.
As I age, friends I once shared a path with turn down a different path and go in a different direction. They form new social circles and develop new relationships, as do you. I recognize things we once had in common are no longer there. I notice other friends take priority, those they have more in common with on the new path. I try to engage, salvage the friendship I feel fading, but it feels awkward and out of place. I notice I now have to TRY at a relationship that once came so effortlessly. That’s when I realize things have definitely changed, and I accept the inevitable.
Yet again, I fade into the background to admire from a distance that which I once held so near and dear.
No love lost. In fact, love gained.
Love for myself. Love for growth. Love for the laughs, the tears, the moments, and most of all …the memories.
I began to deal honestly with myself when it came to friendships. Instead of seeing all the wrong I felt had been done to me I begin to view the relationship through their eyes, looking at my own actions and inactions. I had to willingly admit my failures, but also stand on my boundaries.
I can’t be someone I’m not to accommodate someone else’s social needs (or otherwise). Just as I can’t expect others to sacrifice what they need in a friendship to accommodate my social weaknesses.
I don’t need a lot of social interaction. I can’t handle the responsibility that comes with a large social circle. I didn’t need to be them. What I need is to accept me.
My entire life I’ve tried to develop lasting friendships showcased on shows like Insecure, Living Single, and Girlfriends (…well, Jill and Tony did fall off in the end right, I forget if they made up? Maybe that’s not the best example but you get the damn drift.). The more I tried, the more I failed and ended up hurt.
Once I resolved to stop trying to be that which I wasn’t; and I stopped operating from a place of envy, I was able to make peace with myself and my needs in this area. This doesn’t mean there aren’t moments that I feel sad for relationships I’ve lost or that are not as close as they once were – I do – but instead of denying the pain, I accept it. I feel it. I confess it. Then I release the feeling in love for myself and for the ones I’ve thought about.
(Sometimes this means I have to recall a memory of the person that makes me smile….but hey, whatever works. )
Today, I find a sense of strength in my solitude. It’s been a constant source of comfort since I was a young girl. I recognize my social needs are minimal. I have a super small group of close knit sister friends who understand and accept my quirks for what they are without letting it deter the friendship. I am ever so grateful for that, for them.
I’m also grateful for those who’ve moved on to different paths with new circles of friends. Initially, I thought this meant the friendship was a failure and I’d somehow been thrown away, but that is untrue. Friendship doesn’t diminish because you grow apart. I’m thankful for those friendships of past because they challenged me to look at myself to see where I can be a better as a friend. I’m also grateful for the friendships of past because their influence, no matter how minimal, helped mold me into the person I am today.
The world has a way of making things so appealing that if you’re not careful, you’ll end up believing you need something that goes against everything within you. But, we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves – and about what we truly desire – despite what the world tells us we need to appear “happy” or “normal”. This is the only way any of us will ever find freedom, peace, and truth.
I’ve always known there is a healing wisdom somewhere in the heartache, so I seek it out like a feign. I’m thankful to I AM THAT I AM for allowing me to find the healing lesson in this.
Love the Light.
Light and love.