Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friendship is a Funny Thing

I need people. That, oddly enough, is a shocking realization to me. I love people. I love getting to know someone. I love laughing and joking and having a good time. I love inside jokes. I love reminiscing about shared memories. I love growing and maturing and changing alongside someone whom I’ve known for a long time, and watching them do the same.

So why am I so isolated? I’m often far too quick to place blame on one factor or another. I can say, for example, that it’s other people’s fault for not appreciating me (which wouldn’t be particularly fair or accurate). Traditionally, I’ve blamed myself. My childhood was secluded. I had no siblings, and the few neighborhood kids proved poor playmates. Still, my parents took me to all sorts of fun activities and involved me in all sorts of extracurriculars. My mom spent all of her time with me, and I was never lonely. She was (and in many ways still is) my best friend and confidant.

I always said, though, that I lacked the proper socialization as a youngster. Like a puppy that is raised away from its own kind, I was unable to relate to my peers once I finally did meet them. Raised entirely by adults, I considered myself one of them. Catholic school was a nightmare. “Social outcast” might be too strong of a term to describe my condition, but not by much. I had different interests and different abilities than my classmates, and that made true friendship practically impossible. Then there was my stutter—something that made me extremely shy, and something that still affects me to this day, even though I have in many ways mastered it, and few acquaintances even know I have a speech impediment. It’s hard to be friendly when you can’t talk, and nowadays that simply translates to “it’s hard to be friendly.” And that’s not even mentioning how introverted I am.

These are poor excuses, though. I think it may have far more to do with my unrealistic expectations. I’m extremely picky about my friends. Not to say that I’m snobby or elitist (I like to think I’m anything but), by any means, but there are very few people whom I consider True Friends. I have lots of “friends” whom I like and care about and whose company I enjoy, but I wouldn’t miss most of these people if I never saw them again. A true friend, to me, is someone I can share anything with and not be embarrassed. Someone I can talk to and count on and confide in and trust unconditionally. Someone who shares my interests as much as I share theirs, and someone who is willing to put as much into the relationship as they take out. See what I mean about the unrealistic expectations? How many times does one find a kindred spirit like that? Once in a lifetime?

I’m not a partier; I’m not a drinker; I’m not a hooker. These things just don’t appeal to me. It’s just a difference of interest, I suppose, but if that is what is required to maintain a friendship with some people, well, count me out. I’ll just decline the invitation (perhaps multiple times), and I come across looking pretty antisocial. Perhaps that’s fair. Maybe I am a smidge on the antisocial side. But that’s not to say that I’m a fuddy-duddy, though—I like to have a good time. When I’m in a comfortable situation with people I like, I can be a lot of fun, or so I’ve been told. My idea of what friendship, however, is pretty much the antithesis of the sparkly gif at the top of this post, to try and put it in perspective.

I thought I had some really good friends in high school. I’d spent seven years with some of those people, and knew them extremely well. I thought we’d keep in touch. After graduation, however, we all drifted apart. I tried to organize a few social get-togethers over the summer, but people made excuses, and I gave up. I stopped talking to many of them. Strangely, some of the people whom I had only considered casual acquaintances started talking to me online, and new friendships (albeit long-distance ones) developed. It just goes to show you can never predict where life will take you.

I’m a little lonely, I’ll admit. I long for human interaction—a little selfishly, perhaps, but who doesn’t need people to pay attention to them every once in a while? I’m far from depressed or pitiable, though....I’d just like to be a bit more social. So what do I need to do now? I need to be a little more outgoing, I think. Maybe I need to lower my expectations a bit. I’m far from perfect, so I can’t expect perfection in other people. And if I expect people to be friends to me, well, I need to be a friend in return. It’s a give-and-take relationship, and I could stand to do a bit more giving.

I'd like to repeat, once again, that I don't need people feeling sorry for me. Reading back through this, it sounds ridiculously whiny. It probably is. I'm in a whiny mood. I guess I'm still struggling with the transition to college, and the fact that I'm with a whole new group of people now. I have made new friends in college, and I intend to continue doing so. It's just something that seems to come a little harder to me than most people, as I tend to overanalyze things and I'm not content with superficiality. Oh well.

End vent.


2NO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
2NO said...

Introversion often wrongly implies that the person is concerned only with themself and is a hermit from society. I disagree. People, no matter how aloof they are from others, long for the company of another human being. One of the many questions that continues to bog my mind is: Does extroverts feel lonely? Probably a stupid question. They have many friends and are frequently surrounded by people, so ofcourse they are not lonely. But, when they sit down one day, neck-deep in the overwhelming puddle of life and have a reflective moment, how many people can they proudly call a friend? You are normal on your quest to find that one "bestest" of friends. It is one of knowingly or unknowingly, universal life goal that we all have. Some are lucky to find it early and easily, and for others,it is a tricky treat. And still, for others, it is never achieved. Don't take this as a discouragement, but an encouragement. You say you are socially awkward and have unrealistic expectations, and these could be the cause. This could be true. Your expectations depicts you as very deep. You want a meaningful friendship.
As with any relationship, it takes work. It's kind of like a trial and error process. Sometimes, like most thing you really want, it might even come unexpectedly. First it takes initiation. It's difficult to meet people, but it's also a fun challenged. You mastered the academia world, why not try mastering the social?
Why not open options to meet people that you have closed before