The Quest for Friendship
In my latest live stream, Thursday Night Live ~Friendship~ (which you can view by clicking here if you missed it), I discussed the topic of friendship.
How many of you can relate to the one-sided friendship, or simply finding it difficult to find people you connect with? Many things can contribute to this - Introversion, social anxiety, or merely what your personal definition or standards of friendship are.
Sadly, all of these topics apply to me.
Finding friendship has always been a difficult task for me, and seemed more trouble than it was worth. I always believed that my relationship and friendship life thing was flipped, in that finding compatibility in relationships has usually been fairly easy for me, whereas friendships... not so much. Finding a friend was, for me, as dating is for others. And vice versa. But, you can't have more than one boyfriend at a time, of course, like you are usually expected to have more than one friend... so this became problematic and I quickly tired of Boyfriend A so I could move on to Boyfriend B. But that's a WHOLE different subject for a different day.
(Side note: I would appreciate my readers refraining from judgment about my brief mention of my past dating choices/habits as they have no bearing on anything, and do not affect anyone in the slightest. If you have a problem, then please just move along. You do not have to read this or follow me. Bullying will not be tolerated.)
For me, making friends was most difficult as a child/teen, because that's when one is judged most by the number of friends one does or doesn't have. Chances are that if you have zero to one friend, you will be labelled as the weird girl/guy of the school. I resent that children think this way, because objectively from an adult standpoint, having fewer friends does not imply "weirdness" - merely an ability to entertain oneself without the need for external stimulation. At least, that's how I was (and still am).
Being introverted is a huge factor in limiting ones friendship-making abilities. Introverts thrive on alone time, tend to be less talkative in social settings, sometimes avoid social situations altogether, and require a deeper connection with a person in order to form a bond. Chatting idly about the weather or your favorite movie usually will not earn you a friendship with an introvert. Nothing bores me into a dust pile faster than a cashier yakking my ear off about Pokemon, or whatever, when I'm just trying to pay for my pizza-flavored Combos and go home so I can light some candles and read "Dracula" in the bathtub.
Social Anxiety Disorder is another beautiful gift bestowed upon me by the almighty powers that be. Do you know what it feels like to actually be AFRAID to get up in the middle of class to sharpen your pencil, grab a tissue to blow your nose, or throw something away? You would be surprised how many people can relate to that. If you can't, then congratulations, you're a mentally-sound human being and don't have to hide behind your boyfriend at Burger King while he orders for you because you're too inexplicably scared to do it yourself. (Thankfully, I have a very understanding boyfriend who gallantly steps in when my anxiety decides to show up, punch me in the face, and spit in my eye for no apparent reason.)
When you have social anxiety (or any anxiety disorder, in fact), your brain turns on you and robs your ability to access any confidence or rationality which you might have stored in other parts of your brain. It makes you think that everyone is watching you, everyone is waiting for you to make a mistake so they can laugh at you, and everyone will be talking about your faux pas for the rest of the day. It literally makes you AFRAID to interact with mankind in any capacity.
Now, the thing about making friends is... you have to meet and talk to people, right? No real way around that. So, we have introversion - which limits our frequency of time spent around others - and social anxiety - which inhibits our personal interaction with others. Sounds like a recipe for a friendless life, if I've ever heard one!
Another lovely addition to this already hopeless mess is needing a deep bond with someone in order to call them "Friend". I enjoy spending time alone and find small talk tedious. I don't want someone to just "hang out" with - I want someone with whom to share thoughts, adventures, dreams, feelings, and theories. We HAVE to get along, have the same sense of humor, enjoy the same activities, have the same taste in the arts, despise the same things, and see each other as equals so the friendship is balanced.
Too often, the friends I have acquired (and ultimately un-acquired) over the years have failed to meet most of these criteria. Perhaps it sounds as though I'm being picky - and perhaps I am - but that is simply what I need in a friend. Anything less, and it feels like a drain of my time and energy. I am a person who simply does not need many friends. But I admit, it is nice to have them, hence my eternal quest to find the perfect match (much as most do for the perfect significant other).
Most of the friends from my childhood/teen years turned on me one way or another because I was "too weird", which I interpret as my interests not aligning with theirs. I have observed that the majority of people in this world are cookie cutter people - watch television, experiment with drinking as teens, attend parties, bond over budding sexuality and feelings of attraction, go to college, get careers, get married, have kids, drink some more because they have kids... you get the idea.
That's not me. I never watched television, so I didn't know what was going on half the time when everyone else was talking about current events or the latest trending TV show. I didn't drink - ever - and still don't (which you can imagine is an epic hindrance for basically any social interaction with anyone, ever...). I had no interest in giggling over "cute" guys while doing our hair and painting our nails at sleepovers. I didn't subscribe to becoming a college/career robot or a baby-making machine. I liked to have my own brand of fun which involved imagination and wonder and thought-provoking ideas.
Once, in sixth grade, I had a friend over and I tried to have a conversation with them about the existence of parallel dimensions. All I got was a weird look and I'm pretty sure they never came over again.
This pattern continued throughout my adult life until I became comfortable with not having many friends. As I get older, it's more difficult to start from scratch over and over when I think I have found a potential friend. I'm my whole self from the get-go because I don't have time to futz around with trying to impress anyone or playing mind games (I'm in my thirties, for crying out loud). It always starts off well and I think there could be a great friendship, but then it turns out my new potential friend was hiding a huge chunk of themselves until they finally got comfortable around me - and now I'm stuck with a "friend" I don't particularly gel with like I thought I did, and now I have to look like an ass and "break up" with them. I simply do not have the time, patience, or desire to accumulate a silo's-worth of casual acquaintances.
And of course, there's the added "one-sided friendship" where it seems to be all about them and none about you. No one likes that. On my YouTube live stream on this topic, a lot of viewers were able to identify with all of these things.
So, there we are. As it sits, the only people I truly consider "friends" are numbered so few that I can count them all on one hand - and I am perfectly ok with that.
Do you have problems making/keeping friends? What things discussed here can you identify with? Let me know!
Be sure to catch me LIVE on my vlog channel (youtube.com/LeahMouseVlog) on Thursday evenings for more real talks.
Thanks for reading!