Human interaction comes with it perks, like love, kindness and wisdom, to name a few. However, it too can also drive a person to madness, as many memes and posts on social media seem to echo every day. Personally, I like to blame this effect on not having agreed upon laws of reciprocity to ensure everyone’s needs are being met, regardless of the relationship type. We, as individuals, don’t take the time to establish rules and norms that are easy to follow. Most times I feel I am walking into a mine field, ready to trigger some sort of anxiety, angst or painful reaction because of not being fully aware or apprised of the other side’s mental landscape.
Tired. Beaten. Overworked. Underpaid. Unloved. Too optimistic. Too pessimistic. The Russian roulette of emotion never ends well.
This uncertainty is hard for an introvert like me to process. I like order, not chaos, and consistency in communication and negotiation tactics and outcomes is preferred, especially in the case of friendships. The lack of a standard or regulation makes the interactions murkier and drives me up a wall. What is their expectation of me? And, more importantly, am I allowed to have an expectation of them? What types of reciprocity agreements do we make explicitly and implicitly before we ate considered rude or exigent? What truly makes a relationship successful?
Whenever we open ourselves to love and be loved in return – socially, romantically or finally – there is a certainty of hurting those in our hearts. We carry them so closely to our chests that they get to see our imperfections, the vulnerable and innocent side of our egos which are terribly easy to bruise. Insecurity and sheer malice aside, our good intentions can do more harm than our nefarious deeds. The pull and push of letting someone get comfortable enough to see the real you while still protecting yourself with steel plated armor exhausts the mind and spirit, launching the occasional truth bomb that shatters the balance and illusion of our new reality. At some point we voluntarily lower our defenses instead of reinforcing them. We are mortally wounded regardless of how strong and resilient our plating appeared to be.
Case in point, the wedding party invitation. I’m one of the “guys”, the buddy, the only female or one of the few in the group. I made a lot of my homeboys an integral part of my wedding, from officiating to giving toasts, yet none of them included me in theirs. W got to participate in two of the weddings as he is one of the bros. 🤷♀️. Knowing that the social norm these daya is to break tradition doesn’t help frame the problem to my advantage. My memories of the events have been reduced to a very prominent bitterness split over spending thousands of dollars to attend these events and not getting enough quality time with the bride and groom as I was excluded from . At what point in time was I a) allowed or b) empowered as their friend to say something about the perceived slight? Do I have the right to feel sad or disappointed? 😖😩🙃 Looking back I don’t even know why this bothered me but it does. The rejection stings. The doubts linger.
It’s hard to convince myself that I don’t do enough to warrant special consideration from my peeps. It is even harder to accept that special consideration is not a part of the friendship agreement. By definition, all the need to do to qualify as a friend is care about me, with no empirical data or quantifiable measures to determine if, how much or how well they care. My case is worsened by the notion that I treat my friends as family, all equality important to me, and that in of itself is difficult to communicate to people. Throw in social media to the mix and long extended absences and pauses in the physical hangouts and memory making opportunities and you end up even more confused about where you stand with your people.
I wish there was a meme that cohesively expressed my state of resolved apprehension when it comes to making and retaining friends. The relationships I made in kindergarten all the way through high school are a lot easier to navigate because we went through so much together that we bonded over the victories and defeats. With my adults friends, I really never got a chance to fully bond. What made me relatable and essential to my existing pals was not resonating with the newcomers. Only a few made me a part of their inner circle, which in many cases resulted in being excluded from others, unbeknownst to me. Hard to gauge if it was for better or worse. I don’t have enough intel to make that conclusion, and as my associates move back home or out east, I find that connecting with them from a distance makes the exchanges more meaningful and the bonds stronger. It doesn’t solve the predicament though. Am I just feeling lonely or am I truly alone? 🤔🤔
My mom told me I was going to meet people who liked the same things I did and were more like me, nerd-geeks that read everything put in front of them, could play sports, and cleaned up nicely. I hindsight, I have really amassed a collective of souls that meet ALL if not MOST of my very unique requirements. Losing them is not an option because they help me extrapolate all the possible points of view and truths to be explores. Without their insight, it would be almost impossible to accurately understand people’s intentions. Being abnormal has more issues than being the norm. It’s complicated to explain, especially when my social anxiety kicks in and forces me to be nice to everyone despite my own apprehension.
Trusting people is an exercise in futility to me, yet I have chosen to love unconditionally those who in their own way love me too. It is in this very conundrum that my heart finds solace. Life is not about loving those who are easy to fall for; the greatest challenge is to love them in spite of themselves. I hope my introverted heart finds peace in the knowledge that many appreciate my kind words and owl like wisdom. I should apply these to myself as well.