“Oh, I see you’ve met Robbie. He makes fast friends with everyone,” the cheeky bastard announced to a group whom I had just met.
This was several years ago at an event, yet those words have stuck with me. I can’t make up my mind if I’m offended or not.
It’s partly true— I am friendly. I could make friends with a wall. But his snide comment did get me thinking about the various levels of my friendships.
There are the acquaintances, the good friends, fringe friends, college friends, friends you see once a year at a conference, close friends, friends you call up when you’re in town, friends who call you in the middle of the night— and it all somehow culminates into your best friend, your very best friend. For me, admittedly, I throw around the term “best” friend too often. The fact is that they’re all my best friends, and they know it. They have enough confidence in our relationship not to question whether or not they are.
And best friends have spats. Where friends run awry, however, is when they do not take responsibility for their actions. Owning up and saying, “Wow. I am so sorry. I did not know that made you feel that way, and I am a huge dick for saying that,” shows true care and compassion for not only the friend, but the friendship overall. And if that friend is not willing to concede and make amends, then we’re at an impasse.
You Can’t Sit With Us:
I’ve been accused of being popular. And my humility will neither confirm nor deny that. I do know a lot of people, and I like the majority of them. But here’s the plain truth: it is not enough for people to like you. Popularity isn’t a game of who can name drop or post pictures with the “in” crowd. You actually have to do something with these relationships. You must care. Because it might not seem like it at first, but as friendships go on, the levels of understanding come to the surface. Your true intentions bubble up and over, and eventually, out spills the tea— for better or for worse.
You won’t believe me, but I’m just going to say it: I feel like an extroverted introvert (ENFP if you’re nosey). The reason you won’t believe me is that, if you’ve ever seen me, you know what a buzzing, flamboyant burst of energy I can be— but that’s how I am in the presence of people. 90% of the time out of the view of the public, I’m holed up underneath the covers, likely watching CNN and retreating from the world. In brief, when I’m on, I’m on.
I don’t know that I belong to any one group but rather float around all of them. I like to stick my foot into every pool and get the temperature from each. I do know, however, that I do attempt to surround myself with only the best people— people who are much smarter than I am, achieve way more than I ever will, and have a deeper sense of self that I could ever discover. This is a testament to the way I was raised by my dear mommy, and a promise I will uphold.
Friendships in the digital age:
Friendships founded on social media can be powerful— and also disposable. How easy is it to unfriend someone? My general rule is this: if you’re going to be my “friend” on Facebook, I have to have met you in person at least once, and I have to want to at least have lunch with you. (Either that, or your life is so full of drama that I absolutely want to see what happens next.) There are exceptions to this rule, of course. If I’m 99% sure I’ve met you through an event or networking, I’ll likely add you— because I don’t have much to hide on my social medias. That’s how living authentically works. It’s not to say I don’t have my secrets or value my privacy. But I do a decent job of policing how and what I post.
You can’t hang out with someone and look at your phone— it’s “rude” and “inconsiderate.” But it’s also not how we operate in 2018. What I absolutely love is having a day-long of activities with a friend, and later on, I can’t find textual representations of what we’ve discussed. There’s no record other than the memory in my head— you know, actual human interaction? How novel!
Sometimes, it has to happen. When a person no longer brings joy into your life, or it becomes one-sided, that person has to go. I’ve committed a friend breakup before. I’ve also been broken up with before. On one hand, it hurts, both doing the breakup and being on the receiving end. But on the other hand, it can be very liberating, again in both situations.
With a particular friend some years ago, I was fed up with their constant negativity. I kept getting invitations to their pity parties, and I only had the energy to attend every now and then. But that negativity turned into dependency, wherein this friend started treating my other friends like crap. So the friendship fizzled out, and I severed ties. And it sucks, because I want the best for that person, even if they can’t get out of their spiraling downfall.
On the other side of the coin, when I’ve been broken up with, it brings up a ton of questions— am I the toxic person in this situation? What warranted this sudden removal from their life? I know I’m a lot to handle, but I’m also fiercely loyal. Again, I wish them both well on their journeys. Though having played some role in their life, I was no longer to be involved anymore— willingly or otherwise. C’est la vie.
As I make this flying career into a lifestyle, several things come as a result. You might think it’s glamorous. And it’s a whirlwind, but it’s also very exhausting. It’s difficult enough to make friends in your mid 20s, outside of work no less. But add in the varying, nonstandard schedules that don’t always include free weekends, and you get a mess of, “Hey, I’m actually in town!” texts that may or may not get attention. When I left Chicago, I was craving more diversity in my friends’ professions; I’m slowly growing that friend base in Seattle. But it’s still hard to marry my flexibility with the grounded people at home.
I won’t ever stop meeting people and making connections— it’s in my spirit and truly gives me life. But the number of friends I have won’t devalue or dilute the attention or meaning to each one. And it’s not bound by any one geographic location. Perhaps it’s a luxury of my profession; perhaps it’s a curse of a vagabond.
Soundtrack, obvious yet always relevant:
An incredibly insufficient slideshow of darling friends (readily available from my phone):