Friends? Who Needs Them.

Okay, I am going to go all in it for this post. “Tell me how you really feel,” kinda deal.

Also BTW my family always suggest and say that people are intimidated by me and that is what causes the frustrations you are about to read below. It would be nice to know if it were true. I will admit though, I have always been my own person never one to sway with the crowd or pressure… if there is any peace of mind it is surely that I’ve never stopped shining my light.

I have moved around quite a bit in my 28 years of life. As a child and youth my family and I moved to 4 different cities, essentially from one side of Canada to the other side. These moves were calculated and enabled my father to take different amazing career building opportunities. Did all the moving bother me? Not in the slightest, sure I would initially be sad but then the sadness was easily swallowed up by my excitement at the prospect of a new house, academic challenge and adventure. As a preface please note that I generally stuck to myself as a child and youth between elementary and middle school. I always had birthday parties with friends in elementary school, but stopped after grade 6 with no further interest in hosting such big events. My focus was on my academics, athletics and whatever hobby intrigued me at the time.

The only family move that I wasn’t a fan of was the last one, which was when we moved from a city that I was getting more established in during my first year of high school and I had what we would call a “some-what social life” gaining connections through my sports teams (that I was taking a lot more serious in grade 9 and 10). However, the friendship I valued most was with a girl I met in my gym class – we hit it off like to peas in a pod and have remained friends over the years. She was even at my wedding!

From that glorious big city we moved about 3.5 hours away to a small city on the outskirts of another major city – it was horrible. At least it was to me from the ages of 15 – 20 years old (which was the age I moved to another province YAY FOR MANIA!). Unfortunately, I went from enjoying my high school experience (school in general) and the social circle to absolutely hating the remainder of my high school experience. It was no bueno.

The only sincere joy I felt while living in the “small city” was when I was captain of the jr. girls basketball team, which was a pretty cool feeling considering it was my first year at the school (sidenote: our team dominated), basketball was literally my only source of happiness while attending school (I guess we could say basketball along with the other sports I participated in, but even those didn’t complete me like they used to in previous years).

In grade 12 due to an injury I was unable to play any sports – talk about losing your lifeline. Prior to completely succumbing to the injury, I had actually joined the snr. girls basketball team BUT the team was straight up more like a drama club than a team – so I quit. Quitting allowed me to escape the toxic catty environment and it was also in the best interest of my injury. Did the teammates that called themselves my “friends” take this well? NOPE, it was social suicide apparently (and that was with them not knowing I thought they were a drama club). I was talked about and ignored, they would walk past me either in groups or individually and glare at me or pretend like they didn’t see me when it was obvious that they did. (sidnote: they lost every game of the season – not gonna lie this little fact brought me some satisfaction in my 12th grade)

Do I regret quitting the team? Not in the slightest it ultimately showed the true colours of those that I was surrounded by and propelled my motivation to graduate and get out of the city as soon as posssible.

After graduation I moved around quite a bit, I often had “great ideas” that required me to move. After high school I moved into the major city that was closest to the city I loathed. Shockingly (but not actually), this move was short lived and I returned home to my parents. I then decided that I would move to Ontario (to a very large city). While in Ontario I met some girls while attending school. I am still quite close to 1 out of the 3 girls that formed our friends group. Additionally, in Ontario I met a guy at church who I became very good friends with (nothing ever happened we literally just clicked and enjoyed each others company).

Following Ontario, I seemingly maintained the trend in my life for moving. Unwisely, I moved to another major city after briefly going home to my parents (as a result of me being a bit cray cray in Ontario). Lo and behold, it was short lived (curse mania giving me “great ideas”). I moved back in with my parents; I saved and then attended a University where I met one of my best friends who I am very close with still (I probably talk the most in-depth and frequent with him. He was one of 2 friends who would visit me in the lovely psych ward when I was admitted).

Following that particular 2 year university career I moved on to another post secondary institution where I met another “friend”. To be honest, I had considered us quite close up until a month or two ago (she did my makeup for my wedding) … at the end of the day it seems that we drifted, and it was not because I didn’t put in the effort. I have no clue what prompted the radio silence the last message she sent was the “I miss you and can’t wait to see you”, with a picture of her new nephew.

Another move took place and was a result of being blessed by marriage. I moved to a new province and city to relocate to where my husband was living and working (we had a long distance relationship). I worked at a law firm that I adored with a great crew of people, in particularly I jived really well with a young law student. We still keep in touch, he is planning a wedding for next year and I am holding him to his word that I’ll be receiving an invitation.

Needless to say I’ve moved. I’ve moved cities. I’ve moved schools. Apparently, it’s just always been my way of life and now that I am 28 I keep asking myself the following question: Does it bother me that I don’t have a “social group” of “friends” to chill with on a patio, to meet for brunch, shopping, hiking or trips? So cliche, right??

It kind of does.

I have “friends” or rather lets call them social contacts. I feel that friends is such a liberal term people use these days. These “contacts” are essentially small talk instigators permitting pleasantries when we are in each others company. However, there is no real friendship – sure we are facebook friends and perhaps following each other on IG but none of that has resulted in me being that girl who is invited out to their get-togethers or feeling part of something bigger than myself. I just see these individuals post about everything they do with all the other mutual “friends/connections” that we have. Odd man out – maybe just a bit.

Growing up and even as an adult I saw all of my 3 sisters have friendships that were quite interactive. Certainly, they instigated some of their friendships, however that was not the case with all of them. They were being invited to go out from childhood into adulthood and had people coming over – that is what I remember. Yet it has always been out of my grasp.

Even when it comes to my closest friends who live all over the country – I feel like unless I initiate the conversation there is no conversation. Sure, sometimes I’ll be surprised that someone sends a message or calls before I do, but even so when I message with my “closest friends”, sometimes it seems to lack depth. Generally if I attempt to delve into how I’m feeling or important things that are happening the conversations seem to die quickly if it is in a message format. So, I remind myself that when I do talk on the phone, skype or see my friends in person it is always as if we never were parted and we visit for hours, but meanwhile the interim … just stinks.

Is it enough to be “best friends” and literally only talk on the rare occasions through the year? And what is wrong with me in the sense that I literally don’t have any friends (apart from family) who live in my area??

Literally, with every single one of my “closest friends” that I have met in the various cities that I’ve lived; I have initiated every single one of those relationships. I reached out and started the conversations. Not a single one of them talked to me first. Yet, all of those friends have expressed how happy they are that we met and that I approached them. But the sad reality is at the end of the day is that they have all moved on and have friends and relationships blossoming and thriving where they live – thus I am side shuffled. Is that understandable? Of course! It is probably just a harder pill to swallow because I haven’t met people to essentially replace those connections with where I reside. We have history and that’s why our friendships have survived this long and I know I genuinely care about these individuals.

Do they currently have an advantage because they’ve lived in their cities for years? Perhaps. I have been moving from city to city generally every 6 months – 4 years since I was 8 years old. I’ve moved a total of 14-15 times (with my family 4 times… the rest were all on my own… yay mania?).

Maybe I am socially awkward because of all my moves? Yet, all the friends that took the time to get to know think that me “being awkward”, is farthest from the truth. As does my husband… he did marry me, so I feel like his opinion may be bias. All my sisters, who’ve had invitations to be friends with people throughout their lives have expressed that they all think I’m “cool”… just typing that makes me feel lame, but essentially what they were trying to convey is that they enjoy hanging out with me just as much or more as they did or do with their “friends”. I am not an annoying weird sister that they are forced to be around.

I cried to my husband a short while ago asking what was wrong with me? I seriously don’t recall anyone ever approaching me wanting to be my friend (sure guys have approached me to be more than friends – BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT I WANTED OR WANT!). I’ve always had to break the ice, literally every single time. New city, new school, new team, new church – I was apparently not the new girl that inspired people to approach her – just stare. When “friendships” have been developed I generally do the heavy lifting to maintain them. So again, the question is posed – what is wrong with me? Why am I not worth the effort?

The cruel reality of when ever someone did talk to me in school, church, work or where-ever, is that they would generally compliment me (cry me a river I know). “I love your outfit”. “I love your shoes”. “You are so smart”. “You are so good at xyz”. “You’re so nice”. I am not trying to brag in the slightest, I am painting the picture of my life that has always left me confused and frustrated. The compliments would come and then the person would walk away to join their group of friends without further interest of getting to know me or inviting me into their girl squad. As much as it was a compliment it was a slap in the face that felt more like them saying I wasn’t worth their time. So again, what is wrong with me?? Why am I worth a compliment but not an actual friendship without even trying to get to know me?

I know it sounds like whining…. because quite frankly it is. I am just at a loss. I know people generally assume that if you don’t “have friends”, it’s because you aren’t a good friend – but I assure you the friendships I have across Canada would have become dust the moment I moved if I wasn’t somewhat of a good friend. They could have all chosen to be rid of me as soon as I was out of sight… yet the history still stands even with the distance between us and different lives tha we live.

But in all honesty, I am going to talk to my therapist about this. Why am I not desirable friend material until someone gives me that time of day when I approach them and they realize that I’m not a terrible awkward weird person?

Maybe I am intense? Well, I think we all know that answer without me typing it…

I swear I smile though. I literally smile at strangers because I know what it feels like to be invisible and if I can smile at someone and make them feel seen – why not?

I also enjoy talking to random people I encounter. I have a soft spot in my heart for talking to seniors and hearing their life stories. I had the privilege of working in 3 different seniors homes and I volunteered with seniors at a hospital for 6 months. I value every moment of those experiences, the opportunity I had to connect with the residents and patients warmed my soul. It truly amazes me the power and impact you can have in someone’s life just by making them feel seen and heard. Perhaps the sentiment resonates with me so much because I often feel so… invisible. No one ever really wants to take the time to sincerely talk to me, so I really do know the feeling of being over-looked and forgotten and that is often the sad reality of so many seniors.

Hear me out – I am not ignorant to the fact I actually do have the ultimate best friend I could have ever hoped for and he is in very close proximity. He is actually living with me – a.k.a my husband (also along with my little furbaby Nutmeg). It also goes without saying that I have 3 amazing sisters and incredible parents who I consider my best friends as well. I have an incredible family network and deep meaningful relationships. So perhaps I am greedy to want more.

I think the thing that bothers me is just wanting to know – why not me? Why doesn’t anyone (particularly women) want to take the initiative to approach me with the hopes of becoming friends? I contacted a woman that attends the same church as me last week. I reached out with the intention of becoming better acquainted so we can maybe be friends if we are a good fit. I’ll tell you now that her reaction was very sweet and genuine, however, I found myself slightly saddened by it. She expressed with great enthusiasm that she was so happy I reached out to her, because when I started attending church she was hoping we could somehow manage to connect and become friends. Prior to covid-19 I had been attending the church probably for a good 2-3 months. Why, why did I have to be the one to break the ice months later and initiate a friendship that she expressed she wanted to happen in the first place?

It’s great and amazing that we both have that genuine interest to become better acquainted and I am in no way going to be bitter about the fact I instigated the connection, but once again – what is wrong with me that people don’t want to approach me?

Also, despite what this post might convey I can assure you I do not come across as needy in my day to day life. I’ve lived many years quite content to be a solo artist and pursue my own en devours, I love good conversation with anyone but I certainly don’t pin people to the wall trying to make them talk to me or be my friend. I’ve always just rolled with the punches in essence not letting it get to me, but perhaps in my older age I can’t quite take a punch like I used to.

Today’s post was filled with questions, and perhaps not a lot of beneficial insight to apply into your own life. I apologize for that. Maybe, the only benefit to this post will be that you can relate and you don’t have to feel like you are the only one in the world like this (I feel like that sometimes).

This topic of “friends”, has been plaguing my mind lately and I just needed to get it out of my head. Do we really need them? Ted talks might suggest we do. However, I am tempted to try to unlock that strong independent inner-child I once was; never “needing” friends or their invitations to sit together or hang out in order to not feel like I was a reject. I honestly think I need to pursue my hobbies and interests more seriously in order to fill the void of the elusive local “social life and friendships that have the depth” I crave. Having social interactions with strangers that don’t lead anywhere other than “gee that was a tough boxing class, see ya next week”, are not the worst thing in the world. Perhaps, I am better off alone at the end of the day it certainly seems to be the theme in my life.

2 posts in 1 week #WINNING.

– Steph

4 thoughts on “Friends? Who Needs Them.

  1. I have enjoyed both of your post. In regarding friends; I think most people are intimidated by your beauty, intelligence and your self esteem. You have it all. Including a wonderful husband. I have seen many struggle to have friends and your uncle is one of them. He always seemed to have it altogether but was crying inside. As I have got old I realize that I have had many acquaintances but only a handful of really true friends. I rarely hear or see them but I do feel that connection. Love you so much and know that the best friends we can have is our spouse and family.

    Like

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