Saturday, May 17, 2014

Friendship and stuff

This is the first time-embargoed post. (I'm on vacation, will be back early in June).

Someone I correspond with through various internet platforms quoted me and referred to me as "a friend of mine said..."

And I have to admit, on the outside, my reaction to being referred to as this person's "friend" is to smile a little and go "cool," but inside, I'm doing like Rudolph after Clarice said she'd walk home with him ("She said I'm cute! She said I'm cuuuuuuuuuute!")

I dunno. I still have weird issues about friendship, I guess, and it makes me irrationally happy when someone I like myself openly declares me to be their "friend." (I won't get into how I think the word "friend" has become debased by things like Facebook, where you can 'friend' and, worse, 'defriend" people with a button click).

I sometimes had a hard time making friends. There were times when I tried to be friends with people and got rejected or rebuffed, or worse, they pretended to be my friend and then later turned on me or blabbed stuff I had told them behind my back for the amusement of their "real" friends. So when someone declares me their friend without any ulterior motive, it's a big deal with me. (It's also a big deal that it feels like they're the one reaching out before I do.)

I've said many times I was that weird kid in grade school eating lunch alone in a dim corner of the lunchroom. And yeah, that's kind of true. But I also had an epiphany the other day: Most of the time that didn't matter to me all that much. I mean, I did have some friends, but some of them were older or younger than I was (and therefore were in different grades, so we couldn't have eaten together). I didn't have a LOT of friends but that was mostly okay. I pretty much only felt bad for not having more friends when either:

a. it looked like the kids at a crowded table were having lots more fun


b. when it was pointed out to me (as it was on a semi-regular basis by some kids) that I didn't have many friends. (Oh, that was the worst. I could happily sit alone except for the comments of the other kids. I don't know why; I shouldn't have cared what they thought, they were just dumb kids. I suppose on some level I was afraid I was "broken" or "abnormal" because I didn't have a crowd of friends, and their pointing it out just affirmed it to me)

My parents didn't seem all that concerned. THEY didn't seem to think I was "broken" in some way. (That was actually one reason why I wound up so close to my parents, emotionally speaking: even when everyone else out there seemed to be telling me I was screwed up, they were telling me, "you are you and that's fine with us.")

Then again, I realize as an adult, my parents were as much go-it-alone types as I was. Oh, they had friends - my dad had friends mostly among his colleagues, and my mom had friends, most of whom had at one time been neighbors of ours. (She still talks to her best friend back in Ohio on a fairly regular basis). They just didn't have a TON of friends - they weren't country-club types, they didn't belong to a lot of groups (other than church). They were as happy as I was, at the end of the day, to sit down with a book and not have to interact with anyone outside of the family. In fact, now that I think of it, nearly all the times they "went out" at night, it was just with each other - either to go to a play or a concert or to go out to a restaurant without my brother and me.

I guess I wasn't a "weird" kid so much as I was an "introvert" kid. As I said, I was mostly okay with being alone a during a lot of the "social" times at school, until it was pointed out to me that this was not what "all" the other kids were doing, and therefore I was "weird."

And I bet a lot of introverts have dealt with that - being told they were "weird" when they were just being true to who they were and doing what made THEM comfortable.

Maybe I can't really say I was a "weird" kid any more. Well, I was still weird in some ways but maybe being "weird" for not having to be part of a pack all the times wasn't so weird. (There were probably other kids like me in school but I didn't notice them.)


Jess said...

Your post reminds me of my standard comment, when someone mentions they saw one of my friends: "I don't have any friends."

Due to the experiences of life, I don't trust anyone. I guess that can be construed as a bad thing. Friends are usually only friends when it's convenient.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing you had supportive parents. That's importance. Mine contributed to my feeling of brokeness. As an adult I'm not close to them.