Time for a thinky post! This is the first of probably many end-of-year wrap-up posts – most of which will probably be about books. So! I thought today I’d talk about something that isn’t books. I’m going to discuss stuff I learned about something that is very mysterious to me.
People are confusing and weird and awesome and figuring them out is tricky. Here are some of the things my little introverted self learned about people and relationships in 2014.
1. Sometimes friends grow apart and that’s OK. It’s sad, but it happens sometimes so I’ll just have to deal.
I used to be friends with this girl. And now I’m… not? I think? But we didn’t fight – we simply grew apart. I think that in a way that is harder than breaking up with a friend.
I’ve always wanted a sister, and if I could pick who she was, then at one point I would’ve chosen this girl. Now I’m not so sure. We’ve grown up and changed. The interests that initially bonded us aren’t really there any more, and we don’t have too much in common nowadays.
Perhaps most tellingly, we don’t make much of an effort to get together and hang out, or even just to talk to one another through emails or IMing or whatever. I have online friends – people I’ve never even MET face-to-face – for whom I make a greater effort to stay in contact, because… because we actually have stuff to talk about.
I still like this girl. We’re just not as close as we once were, and it’s taken a while to get used to that. But it happens… it’s just another part of growing up.
2. Having a long-term friendship with someone should not compel me to remain friends with that person if they make me uncomfortable. If they’re unpleasant, I shouldn’t feel guilty about ending things with them even if we have quite the history together.
This happened to me twice this year.
Late last winter, I broke up with a friend I’d know since about seventh grade. I thought coming out to her would be simple, but she turned out to be one of those “love the sinner, hate the sin” people.
I didn’t need to deal with her homophobia, so I told her that – and said that I wouldn’t be talking to her again. I didn’t want to do this: She has a great sense of humor, and loved geeking out with me about all sorts of things.
And like I said, we’d known each other for around six years. I had a LOT of memories of doing fun things with her, and it felt weird to dump her. In the end, though, I’m pretty sure I made the right choice, because I would’ve felt sooooo uncomfortable continuing to hang out with her.
The second example features a group of people, instead of a single person. My brother and I changed 4-H clubs after spending eight or nine years in our old one.
I’d basically grown up with some of its members, but we’d been dissatisfied with the club’s leadership and lack of organization for years. 2014-15 is my last year of 4-H, so I wanted to have FUN. I didn’t to want to be miserable! So we left and joined another club.
And it’s weird. There are still so many people in this new club who I don’t know, and I’m still getting used to my new club’s traditions, the way they run their meetings, et cetera. But that weirdness doesn’t mean that things are bad. They’re just different. I’m glad we made the choice between sticking with the “meh” club we’d known since forever, and something new but better.
In both situations, I felt guilty about abandoning those people. THEY didn’t make me feel guilty – I did that all myself. I guess… I guess I just kept thinking about how much I used to like them. And then I was like, “Do I really want to keep hanging out with someone because of what our friendship used to be? Because of memories? No. No, I don’t. I’d rather find new people to make better memories with.”
3. “I’m willing to lose friends over ideological differences.”
That’s in quotation marks because it’s from a friend’s video. Miriam Joy @ Miriam Joy Writes vlogged about some things they’d learned about themselves in 2013. Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s an old video, but I didn’t see it until recently! Anyway, that quote stuck with me. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, because it perfectly sums up some of the relationships I’ve ended this year.
Like my friendship with the girl from point #2.
I don’t mind if my friends are different – but if their ideologies lead them to treat me (or others!) as lesser, then I DO have a problem with them. If they treat me poorly because I’m _____ (queer, female, atheist, et cetera) then it’s over between us. If our parents or siblings are friends then I’ll probably still have to see them, and I’ll be courteous to them, but I’m not going to go out of my way to talk to or spend time with them.
I don’t need friends who try to convert me. I don’t need friends who mock me for liking girly things, then later tell me that I’m not girly enough. I don’t need friends who tell me, “I don’t hate lesbians, but why can’t you be quiet about it? Why don’t you try liking a guy?”
Thankfully, most of the people-I-know-who-are-drastically-different-from-me-in-some-way aren’t like this. But sometimes they are, and I don’t want to be around them any more than is absolutely necessary. Why would I be friends with a jerk whose interests are the same as mine when I can be friends with a sweet, awesome person whose interests are the same as mine?!
Having friends who are different from oneself is very beneficial because it exposes to different ways of life and points of view. But if hanging out with that person becomes uncomfortable, rather than mutually beneficial, then… what’s the point? If I’m fine with our differences but the other person sees our differences as a wedge that splits us apart, then I’m getting out of that friendship as soon as possible.
4. Online friends count, too!
Hey! Here’s something cheerful, after a bunch of relationship-y topics that were kind of bleh!
Anyway, online friends are important too, and not lesser because we’ve never met face-to-face. I’ve met some absolutely amazing people through various online writing communities, and talk to a lot of them every single day. Thanks, guys. You’re the best. I love our fangirlish conversations, your words of encouragement, our hopefully-not-so-ridiculous plans to meet up someday when we’re older.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to the people who were exceptionally awesome friends to me in 2014:
- Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words
- Artgirl @ Alien Cows
- Miriam Joy @ Miriam Joy Writes
- Mo (who NEEDS TO GET A BLOG)
- Cait @ Paper Fury
- Matt @ The Little Engine That Couldn’t
- Chloe @ Free As A Girl With Wings
[Blows platonic kisses to her friends and also offers them chocolate]
5. I am often EXTREMELY shy around A) my crushes and B) people I admire.
I think all of us are like this to some extent, but I feel REALLY shy. (Not to mention awkward!) It doesn’t help that this year I crushed on, like, a gazillion girls, queer and straight alike.
I don’t even flirt with (most of) these girls, for heaven’s sake – I just get shy about asking them stuff like, I don’t know, what they did last weekend or when their school goes on winter break. I need to get over this. BUT IT’S SOOOO INTIMIDATING. Blergh.
6. Friendships do actually require effort and sometimes I need to exert more effort with this stuff.
Sometimes I don’t spend much time with friends but it’s not because we’re growing apart! Sometimes I’m just lazy when it comes to asking friends if they want to meet up somewhere and hang out. Sometimes, as I said above, I’m just shy.
I need to work on being a more involved friend. That doesn’t mean I have to become a social butterfly, but if I miss someone and think they’re awesome and want to hang out with them… I need to actually make an effort to ask them to do so.
What did you learn about people in 2014? Was it a good year for you in terms of friends, or was it kind of sucky? Let me know in the comments!