I used to think that if I wanted to make friends with someone, I had to like the things that they liked, even if I didn’t want to. I would change who I was to suit someone else’s idea of a good friend. What no one told me was that it was okay to just tell people what I liked. And it was even better if I didn’t know a band or if I didn’t know something — that meant that other people could teach me. Your friends are the people who teach you something new. They are the people who listen to you when you need someone. They are the people who will seek you out when you go missing for a few days, hibernating in your own quiet. They are the people who will pull you up when you say something that you didn’t intend to, and they will help you find the things that you really like and dislike. The amount of effort and complexity that can go into any single relationship between two human beings is so damn fragile and beautiful that it deserves the necessary credit.
There is so much on my mind with respect to relationships. So much. I have learned time and time again just how difficult it is to be a friend — now more than ever, being in college and all. I have lost so many friendships I never dreamed of losing and become distant from so many people I never imagined I would grow apart from. It’s sad and it sucks for a while but there is no point in dwelling on what has been lost because every single person is on a unique path and those paths can’t (and won’t) always converge. If they do, great. If they don’t and you both want to work at staying in touch, more power to you and good luck. If they don’t and the flame fizzles, congratulations you’re a human being and this is, unfortunately, reality.
Being a friend is so much more than maintaining a significant bond in spite of distance, drama, and discrepancy. It is, ideally, an indescribable balance between two very separate entities functioning in tandem with one another for mutual benefit. I feel very privileged to say that there are relationships of this nature in my life and like I said, I am endlessly grateful for those people. They are not easy to come by and I count my blessings as often as I am able. I will be the first to say that I can be, as a person and a friend, a lot to handle. I’m not always unstable, but I sure have my tendencies and I’m somewhat susceptible to sadness. The fact that I know people who are able to put up with me regardless is fantastic, whether I’m melting in melancholy or so overjoyed with happiness that I can hardly contain myself. On the flip side, I admire certain friends for their idiosyncrasies and beyond appreciate when our flaws sync up. There’s something so comforting about that, isn’t there?
I have so much more to say about relationships than I ever thought I would by now. “I’m new to this” is what I keep telling people to justify my inexperience, especially in terms of romance. but I deserve some credit. I technically have nineteen years of human experience under my belt and I’d like to think I’ve pulled something out of it.
To touch briefly on romantic relationships for relevance and general applicability, I will extend the same idea: the healthier, the better. I just know that a romantic pairing can only truly hit its stride when the situation is healthy. I’ve learned, over the course of fleeting feelings, messy breakups, and pointless relationships, to distinguish situation from person as well as facts from feelings. These entities do not always add up and these are the moments in which relationships cause pain, but it’s important to know that is okay.
It took a hell of a lot of growing and learning, but after immaturely tossing my heart into a sea of boys for years and years, I was taught that what the heart wants may not equate what the heart needs. My love roller coaster and resolution is a story for another time, but I am now currently in a romantic relationship that has been going strong for one year and six months (with bumps in the road, yes, but that’s the beauty of a healthy relationship–you hold hands and overcome the bumps together).
I’ve written other blog posts about relationships, especially on avoiding toxic ones, but I’ve learned new things and I think that’s worth noting. I know I’m not very good at making and maintaining friendships. I’ve scolded myself in heaps of anger and sadness because “I’m so picky” or “I don’t know how to manage my time well” or “I don’t make enough time for others” or “I hate small talk. I just want to move onto deeper, more personal connections (which I am considerably better at)” or any other variation of ramblings. Simply put, I need to give people a chance before I pre-judge our relationship — “Oh, I already know this person and I won’t be close friends because of x, y, z so what’s the point of even getting into it?”
I met a girl in my English class and after various lunch and dinner dates, study sessions, henna art, and talking, talking, talking, it hit me. In the middle of reading Gulliver’s Travels aloud in preparation for our exam while she listened and simultaneously gave me a generous mani/pedi. I stopped what I was doing, looked at her, and said, “Sophia, I know this might sound kind of sad, but even though I’ve only known you for a few months, you are truthfully one of the best friends I’ve ever had.” And I meant it. She invites me to things. She remembers to include me in even the smallest endeavors such as an impromptu henna session on the floor of her dorm room. She is teaching me about making time for others, about being a better friend and being more inviting and friendly. She taught me not to pre-judge a friendship because they can sprout from the most unexpected situations and encounters. In fact, every person I meet, whether if be for a brief amount of time or extended, teaches me something new about myself and about life. I am overflowing in excitement about my future friendships because I know they won’t just be great — they will be fantastic!
Slowly but most definitely surely, I am learning that “you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of”
This is my mantra from here on out. That, and in regards to relationships, “the healthier, the better.”
Whew. I wrote a lot more than I thought I would. Apologies. (If you’re still drooling for more to read about friendships, check out this amazing post).
Goodnight and sweet dreams everyone!