Monday, January 16, 2017

Stop Hating Yourself : Real Friendships Make You Feel Good

I know I've talked before about secret language. The language people use when they mean something else. It's something I get a lot...because I'm different. I've been thinking a lot lately about how I don't fit in and how I still chase fitting in. Today, that was made abundantly clear when I sat with a "friend" who used my own vulnerability to tear me down and reduce me to a pile of what she believes to be my worst personality traits, which are all my fault, of course. It was a profound lesson in how I (and many of us) continue to try to fit in, even within our interpersonal relationships, and why we don't have to!

Have you ever heard those people say something like, "We can go months and then reconnect and it's like there was no time between us!" That's generally considered a compliment to the friendship. And in some ways, it can be. When we're forced to be apart from our best friends because of distance, then it's a great quality to be able to meet up once or twice a year and catch up and feel that friendship. It's always a bummer when distance makes what seemed like a great friendship fade. But often times, in our world obsessed with being busy, what it really means is, "I like to forget about my friends for months at a time and force them to accept this neglect by treating me like it's ok and all we need to do is give summaries of what passed in the time I was ignoring them."

Of course, no one says it this way! They say things about marriage and kids and school and jobs. And sometimes, it is genuinely true that someone might have a lot on their plate and not necessarily be able to keep up on their friendships. But that is not handled by allowing yourself to forget about them and force them not to contact you because actually wanting to spend time with your friends is considered demanding. Being genuinely busy, as anyone who has ever attended med school will tell you is a real thing, is handled by expressing how much you miss that person while you're working on an important goal, not reducing them to the lowest priority on your list. The worst is telling someone who is actually trying to be your friend that reaching out to spend time together is too "intense" and creates "pressure". Reaching out to spend time with someone isn't an intense pressure, it's a hand of friendship extended.

But the thing is, it is genuinely ok not to have time for more people in your life! You don't owe anyone your friendship. But it's not ok to create a false reality where being "too busy" is ok and having someone try to hang out with you is "stressful". That's just bullshit.

I have been called many things in my life, and I am always surprised when someone insults me to my face and declares it like it is a revelation and they are doing me a favor by telling me so. There are many people who don't like the way I run my life, in particular my interpersonal relationships. But the thing is, it's not really their business, right? Unless, of course, I open up to them about things I've struggled with...then it is their business. Today, I learned just how hard I've been trying to open up to someone over and over and just how much she's not really interested. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that she knew from the very start how desperate I was for a connection for her that she did not feel and did not want.

And then, as has happened with other "friends," my struggles with interpersonal relationships was reduced to the idea that they "crash and burn"...which is, of course, my fault and also a problem unique to me. I guess it's not cool to constantly analyze the way I'm treated and not put up with the usual passive aggressive bullshit that is so prevalent in our society. We are conditioned, starting with family members and continuing through bossy administrators in our educational system to shitty bosses, to put up with people treating us badly. Sadly, this so often leaks into friendships, where we are regularly supposed to forgive transgressions against us by those closest to us, because it's acceptable to be shitty to each other. It's not socially acceptable for me to stand up for myself, no matter how light that transgression seems, and to tell people what I want, in no uncertain terms. It's certainly not acceptable for me to get rid of the people in my life who drain my energy and don't support me. Heaving forbid anyone be direct and truthful! That shit is not ok, and it's part of an overarching issue with interpersonal relationship that is obviously the root of all my problems, especially when it comes to pursuing art. (Yes, that was said to me under the guise of friendship today. "Life circumstances aren't the problem, YOU ARE!")

But you know what? Fitting in is far less appealing to me than actually liking my life and finding joy in the relationships I pursue. I cannot believe I allowed myself to be sucked into yet another situation where I allowed someone to tear me down and justify it with her own perceptions of my flaws. Y'all, I have got to learn. I had misgivings several months ago, many long conversations with Adam about the way things had changed...even attempted to address concerns with this friend...which went nowhere, of course. And there I was today, having everything about me boiled down to the easiest insult and then having it declared as if it is a revelation that I need to understand about myself.

Y'all, I am "INTENSE"!

And apparently, everything else I am doesn't matter because all this intensity is just too much. Shouldn't I tone it down a bit?

Nope. Never will. I'd rather crash and burn than dial down any intensity I have.

Relevant Lessons:

  • You are not too much of anything, and if anyone describes you as anything less than a passionate, driven, interesting human being, cut that fucker out!
  • Wanting to be friends with someone isn't a bad thing, EVER. It doesn't make you desperate or clingy or anything negative. Friendship is positive and pursuing that doesn't make you a stressor in someone's life!
  • Friendships are meant to enhance your life and to feel good. If a friendship doesn't feel good, it's ok to end it. It's ok to be honest and tell the person why (because haven't we learned that ghosting sucks). Being an open and honest person, even in the face of unpleasant things, doesn't mean you are allowing things to "crash and burn".
  • Feelings are ok! If you have lots of feelings and like to express them, then maybe you are intense! But if that's a word used as an insult, then whomever said it to you needs to fuck right off right away.
  • If someone is constantly too busy for you and tells you to accept that as a fact of their life, then it's ok not to be friends with them. Maybe that person really does love you and is really overcome by crappy time management, but that doesn't mean you have to sit on the sidelines and wait for their schedule to clear. You are worth someone's time and you are worth someone making time for you.
  • Oftentimes, we equate fitting in with high school bullshit like trying to be a cheerleader (it's fine if you wanna be a cheerleader, so did I!), but fitting in is actually more insidious than that. Fitting in is the way in which we often try to earn the approval of our parents, or how hard we try to fit in with social groups, or how long we might cling to a romantic relationship even when it's not working. We can try to fit in and become so exhausted by that constant struggle without even realizing we're doing it, because our society is all about telling us all the things we need to be in order to be someone else's idea of WHATEVER! But you shouldn't have to work to fit in with friends, or constantly defend who you are, or put up with being insulted as if it's helpful. You can be yourself, and that's ok. Friends should accept you for who you are. Period.


  1. This is the best blog post I have read in a long time, and I've read a lot more lately than usual! Everything in this post is absolutely correct, and I know I need these reminders, and I'm certain so many other people do as well. Thank you for sharing this experience and breaking it down into a fantastic life lesson!

  2. Hey Fenna,
    I know it's been along time, I've been busy LOL. I can't tell you how much I love your writing. Your points are bang on. I struggled with these same things and I found Christmas to be the absolute worst. I actually wanted to barf when I got Christmas cards from family with just their names scribbled on the bottom, like I was some fucking afterthought. I don't treat people that way and I was actually super anger that I was probably used as someone's excuse for how busy they are. If you can't treat me the way I deserve, save a fucking tree and shove your Christmas card up your arse. That's what I'd like to say. Or after, I put great thought in to a gift just for YOU, I get a one sentence thank you on Fucking FB. I so hear you. I am so sorry someone treated you like that. I loved your lessons, absolutely 100% accurate.
    I have been following your IG posts, I think that's the only way I 'see' you anymore. Sad but true, I'm sitting here on a Saturday night looking at my website stats and wanted to check on where my referral traffic comes from and aside from organic searches and FB, your site is one of my biggest referees. I guess it's because I used to be in your sidebar. After I read your post, I couldn't not respond. I really understand your story b/c I'm there too, a dissident. You are too good from your friends.
    Take care lady.
    xoxo Kellie

    1. I get it, girl. I sometimes retreat inside my shell because the world becomes too much. Internet friends often end up at the end of being left out because I just need less "noise" in my life and more time with me. It's my introvert struggle! But I'm glad you reached out. I'm coming out of a withdrawing phase and into a reaching out phase, so hooray for timing!