I tend to cut people off; for small, arbitrary reasons or even for no reason at all.
Photo by August Kay
I tend to cut people off; for small, arbitrary reasons or even for no reason at all. I thought I knew what it meant to be a friend. I was wrong. Believe it or not, there is more to it than what they teach you in kindergarten. Part of being a good friend is being there, and I haven’t been. For anyone. Not to mention, I’ve pushed away everyone who has tried to "be there" for me.
Looking back at the friendships I’ve had in my young life, I’m realizing that most of the time I was the reason the relationship deteriorated. Slowly, or all at once.
I’m a very independent person, who has always prided myself on not needing anyone’s company.
I’ve pitied girls who seem to go from bad relationship to bad relationship, unable to be by themselves for any length of time. The same girls who drag all their friends to the bathroom and tweet about how sad they are when they see people eating alone. I wonder, now, if I’m not worse off in the long run though.
My social skills have never been great but somehow they’ve definitely begun to get worse, and though I feel fulfilled with the way I spend my time, I sometimes find myself yearning to tell someone about that amazing book I found or gush about my celebrity crushes with.
I crave social validation more than I ever have before, deleting posts that don’t get the right amount of likes and combing the internet for post ideas that will make me seem funny if a little emotionally unbalanced. I spend ridiculous amounts of money on little objects that will "look great on Instagram", but only work up the nerve to actually post a picture every 2 months or so.
To summarize: I need a life, and people to spend it with. I’ve always been quick to burn bridges and move on from people and places that don’t seem to be good for me.
The closest friends I’ve had in the past 5 years both unexpectedly moved thousands of miles away. When I started college last fall I chose a program at a small campus and didn’t try to join any clubs or participate in extracurricular activities. I rarely respond to texts or Facebook messages that aren’t urgent, and when I do — let's just say 3-5 business days is an optimistic response time.
I’m not a good friend because I’ve always held unrealistic expectations for people, and never hold myself to that same standard. I’ve been holding out for that one lifelong best friend I can grow old with, who would never hurt me, or that “FRIENDS”-like the gang that knows me as well as I know myself. I tell myself that I am unwilling to “waste my time” on anything less than platonic soulmates, but the truth is probably closer to my being a selfish and pretentious asshole.
I’ve been left out and excluded too many times to “settle” for friends who treat me as an afterthought or an available option should the first or second choice not work out.
However, I’ve also got way too much pride to extend an offer to hang out more than once. Twice, if I have a platonic crush on you (which is very possible).
For the past couple months, I’ve been sending little messages to people I’ve lost touch with along the way, gently reminding them that even though I’ve never really been the easiest person to get a hold of; I think about them all the time and wish them nothing but extreme amounts of happiness and fulfilment going forward. That's the first step I think, to heal relationships I’ve broken and begin to cultivate new and healthier friendships in the future.
Part of self-care is being honest with yourself. This is an honest evaluation of myself and the way I interact with people in my life. I haven’t been a good friend! I probably would not be a great girlfriend at this point in my life! I was a somewhat crappy student in high school because I never applied myself! These little confessions make me feel infinitely better, believe it or not. Coming clean with myself about my failures has helped me to pick myself up and continue on taking life one day at a time.
I’m lucky to have been granted more than my fair share of fresh starts in the last 5 or so years, and I get another one coming up relatively soon as I transition from recent college dropout to first-year university student. I’ve only completed the first step (acknowledging you have a problem), but figuring out how to be the best friend I can be will probably take years, so I’d better get started.