Real Friendship Is Really Hard

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Girls HBO

Friendship is hard sometimes.

One of my closest friends is one of those people who have so many social engagements she has to pencil me in for weekend hang outs. I watch her pull out her cute, girly calendars and write my name in her precise handwriting and wonder how she manages it. This makes me simultaneously jealous and grateful. I just couldn’t do it; keep up with so many people. I have four close friends and sometimes that feels like a lot, I occasionally even feel overwhelmed and then inevitably wonder if that is normal.

I sit in this weird lumpy arm chair somewhere between introverted and extroverted that often leaves me speculating which side I should lean toward. Can I be both? Are people even allowed to be both? I have no problem talking to people, for the most part, but damn, does it get exhausting sometimes and I eventually start fantasizing about my comfy couch and that cool looking book I bought last week. And I’ve realized, over time, that a lot of what I say is sort of… superficial. It stays pretty safely on the surface.

I wouldn’t declare that I have a hard time opening up to people, exactly, but I get these weird anxiety/awkward attacks and I often try to steer clear of subjects that tend to fluster or upset me. I’m a pretty laid back individual but there are a few things that I keep close to the chest because, yeah, I have insecurities about them. Also, if I like you, I will probably worry about your opinion of me. Not so much in the sense that I water down the truth about myself, but I become hyper aware of your social cues. Am I talking about this topic too much? Are they bored? Tired? Am I keeping them out too late? I have always been terrified of being labeled as the dreaded annoying friend and it’s like this never-ending cycle of wondering if by trying not to be annoying I create this horrible self-fulfilling prophecy. This consequently, is probably the root cause of my feeling mentally drained. Maybe this stems from being bullied in elementary and middle school or derives from some deeper, darker place, but honestly, I just want to be liked. Don’t we all, to some extent or another? And sometimes I feel like I’m killing myself over it.

I want to have friends that I can depend on 100% and honestly, I’m just not sure I have that.  I kind of blame my fiancé and his close friends. They are such a tight-knit group and it’s so obvious that they are brothers (or maybe ‘Bros’, Lance Pauker?) and that they totally have each other’s backs even when they are telling each other how stupid they are.  I’m just not sure I’ve ever really experienced anything quite like it. Can women have that same sort of communal sense of ‘sisterhood’? Because honestly, outside of a book about magic pants or a poorly written sitcom, I’ve never seen it. Maybe it’s the environment I live in, with its sort of cut throat mentality and its overall lack of encouraged support, especially among the few female employees, but I worry after it. Can women be the types of friends I think we all really, deep down, want?  Or is there something driving us to compete, to compare, to withhold parts of ourselves in our relationships with one another? Is it society driven… or is it something we all carry fundamentally within us?

And, like many women (apparently) I also suffer from the inability to make decisions for a group of people I actually like. This usually translates into my inability to come to decisions about food and drinking establishments, but can operate at higher levels as well. In my defense, when I say I really don’t care where we eat, I totally mean it, but I also understand it’s probably not entirely cool of me to expect the other person to make decisions every time. But like the Friendship Sheep I am, I am always relieved when I don’t have to take responsibility for that shitty bar we went to, in fact, I’m probably enjoying myself simply because I didn’t have to pick it.

This is probably pretty damn cowardly of me.

I’ve never really had the sort of friend where we hang out, or talk, every day, at least not since high school. I wonder, however, if I should have that sort of friendship. Do I need it? Am I missing out on something fundamental?  All of my hobbies sort of gravitate around personal time:  reading, writing, video games, etc., aren’t always exactly group activities (especially when none of my lady friends play video games). I don’t like going out every weekend and I’m sort of past that point in my life where staying out till the bars close sounds like a good time.  I get stuck in this weird loop where I want to go out more, to be more involved and crap, but then when I try it on for size I usually just end up drained and anxious and looking forward to the solitude of my bedroom.

But I care, I really and truly care. I care about all of my friends even when I take too long to text back or when I’d really rather finish up writing something than go for pedis, I’m still here. If they needed me, I would be there, but I often worry if they know that, if they understand, and whose fault it is if they don’t.

I can’t help but wonder if I’m just a bad friend or maybe I just haven’t found my female ‘soul mate’ yet. But considering I don’t exactly believe in soul mates in general, maybe I’m just cheating myself out of a harsher reality. I’m tired of being that angst ridden sixteen year old convinced she’s always misunderstood, and even though I’d rather burn my book collection than admit it out loud, I still feel that way. And is that just me, or do other women struggle to find true, meaningful connections with one another, too?  I’m not even sure that I want the answer. TC mark

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