In probably the least mature thing I’ll say all week, one of the harder parts of growing up has been realizing that not everyone is going to like me or care to be friends with me. Throughout my life, I’ve always had my core of people, but I’ve always been a social butterfly too with lots of friends in different circles. That just becomes increasingly hard to do as we grow up. Everyone only has time for their close-knit crew, and I get that. I feel it too. It’s hard to make time for people who don’t just get you, and I’m not sure why that’s been so hard for me to swallow. No one is slighting me by not wanting to be in touch. No one is obligated to give a shit about me, even if I start giving a shit about them. That’s not to say I feel unloved or unwanted; I have people who fulfill me in both of those capacities, but it’s hard to accept that sometimes, the effort you put into developing friendships isn’t what others can or will give.
I feel like New York might exacerbate that feeling a bit. "The city that never sleeps" is that way because people here are constantly busy. I've found myself struggling with the line of wondering whether people genuinely want to be friends but don't have time, or they don't want to be friends at all. I think part of it goes back to what I said above, and that people simply want to utilize their free time with the people they care about most because they get so little of it. That's hard to a certain degree for me as a newcomer to town. Nobody owes me their time, and the way these things make me feel needs to be a result of my own outlook.
I got really used to being the person who initiated friendly contact when I lived abroad. I was so busy with my life and having no routine and learning things totally foreign to me, that I reached out to friends when it was convenient, and I'm sure I pissed off some friends and lost some. Coming back to the US and not having constant stimulation has been more difficult than I thought it would. I realize how many people I had supporting me along the way who I probably neglected. I think I have exactly two friends who reach out to me semi-regularly, and that's a hard pill to swallow in terms of my hypocrisy. I can't just expect people to reach out to me now that I'm more accessible, and I can't expect my attempts at spending time with folks to necessarily be reciprocated.
I've always sort of had trouble with reading the social cues of friendship. I want to be friends with everyone. I want to be liked, as I think we all do, and I've always been pretty open. I think I probably catch on way too late when people are giving me cues that they don't want to be friends or give me their time, and I generally worry that I seem desperate when I reach out to people. I feel like it's hard for me to know if someone is the type of friend where I just need to put in the effort and then they'll want to be friends, or if someone doesn't want the effort to be put in at all. I'd be lying if I said it isn't something I've been struggling with.
I feel like an old man when I lament about modern day friendships and relationships, but I also have some serious issues with the unwritten rules, both in my understanding of them and in my acceptance of them. Don't double-text someone, wait a while before responding, etc are modern social rules that don't make sense to me. If I want to say something to someone, I try to say it. I don't really know where the way I interact with people fits, or if I come off as a crazy person because none of the weird intricacies of social media and digital interaction really make sense to me. If you've seen my Facebook profile and its longwinded political rants, you probably know that I just say what's on my mind, often times for worse than for better. I've always sort of treated the digital world like it's real interactions, and it's not.
I think my life up to this point has me struggling to connect with people. I feel like I'm some weird step off from the people I routinely meet. I didn't feel like I was stepping out of normal society to go live abroad, but now that I'm home, it always kind of puzzles me when people talk about my "returning to normal life." Is this my normal that I left behind, and I'm just struggling to accept that? I don't really know. I've found myself trying to grab at the straws of spontaneity to not settle into too much of a routine, and where I loved that life in the past, it feels desperate now. I run this podcast and have on all of these crazy adventurers, and I can't quite reconcile myself and my friendships in the life I'm living now. It all feels very foreign, which compounds the strangeness considering that for the first time in 5 years, I'm living in my home country.
Maybe it's just growing pains, and all of the rest of my friends accepted it after college because they were here facing these challenges head on while I was preoccupied with other things. I feel awkward about friendships, dating, social culture, office culture, and just about everything else. It's a weird lesson in reverse culture shock that I feel like has most starkly mainfested in my friendships since I moved home. I'm not depressed; I know all too acutely what that feels like when I have flareups. I just feel out of place, like somehow the world made moves around me, and I'm stuck in the dust cloud realizing that it might take some time to settle.
I'm not saying I need more friends. I'm not even saying I need more from the friends I have. I just genuinely don't know if the way I connect with people makes any sense, or if I'm misreading the interactions I have with people. I feel like my strongest friendships are solidified. I don't see myself losing the few core people I've got, but I feel like maybe the way I grew up feeling like a social butterfly is something that was maybe never sustainable, and I'm just realizing it late in the game. I remember my mom saying something along the lines of that her fringe friendships faded as she got older and she lost touch with people, and her few close friends are there. Maybe you just learn to pick up with people right where you left off and accept that that's the essence of your friendships from now on as people go on with their daily lives.
Anyway, the random musings of a confused man's mind. I'm happy. I'm healthy. Everything is really good. I just find myself mulling these things over these days. Alas, as always, thanks for reading, and hope everyone's having a good summer.