Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the real reason for this post.
I've been thinking a lot recently about all of my friends who are getting engaged and getting married. At first it took a while for me to get invited to any weddings, but I am finally starting to get invited which is great. I was worried for a long time that I wasn't good enough to be on the guest list, but more about my insecurities in another blog post. Even more than getting invited to weddings, I feel like that next level of friendship would be someone asking me to play a role in their wedding - in this case, being a bridesmaid. I recently heard a friend talk about her bridesmaids and it made me acquire an entirely new fear: who is going to ask me to be a bridesmaid? Will that ever happen? Do I have close enough friends that would ask me to do something that special for them on their day? Everyone always says "Candace, you're so social! You're a social butterfly!" Yes, this is true, and it's really swell, sure, but do you realize how hard it is to have meaningful relationships as a social butterfly? It's very difficult. It feels sometimes that I spread myself so far and thin between all of the "friends" I have, that it becomes hard to realize who my true friends are. Who are the friends that I call when I have a problem? Who are the friends that cry with me? Who are the friends that I see on a regular basis? Who are the friends that know my secrets and insecurities? Now, I realize that having true friends and being asked to be a bridesmaid do not necessarily correlate, but I do feel like it's a huge honor that I have yet to enjoy. Yes I am young and yes I don't have that many friends getting married and yes it's really not a huge deal, but the underlying context of all this gets me to think about my friendships and how I need to be better at connecting on deeper levels.
On that note, this brings me to my next question: is it me or is it my friends? I think the answer is definitely both, but it changes every now and then. For example, I have a few friends that I know genuinely care about my life, but either I don't reach out to them to update them or they don't reach out to me to ask for an update. I also have friends that I've tried to tell some really personal secrets and struggles and it makes them uncomfortable to the point that they laugh it off and say "cheer up" or "you'll be fine" which might be my biggest pet peeves. It feels like I can't win sometimes - whether I try to reach out and don't get any genuine support back or my friends aren't reaching over the aisle enough to ask me what I'm doing or I'm not calling the people I consider my good friends enough to give them updates. It's a complicated mess, but the theme that stays consistent is this: I need to build stronger, long-lasting friendships. I have never been good at this, and it probably has a lot to do with my history of relationships and how most of them growing up were dysfunctional, so I never acquired good skills on relationship building in a meaningful way. I think I have become a person that people know they can come to me with their problems, but I don't know if the favor is ever returned to me so I feel like I keep my secrets to myself. Trust me, it's not healthy, and I'm working on it, I promise.
Since I am the queen of not knowing how to take my advice, but great at giving it, here are some things I would probably tell someone else if they had my dilemma:
- Build your trust - running away from your feelings or the possibility of uncomfortable feelings and rejection only leave us more vulnerable. Trust people enough to know that they can handle what you give them, and have mercy on those who might not know how to handle you either. We're not perfect.
- Make contact routine - put it in your schedule to give an old friend a call at least once every 2 weeks. My roommates from college are people I consider to be my best friends but I barely even speak to them anymore. Take the initiative to reach out and create a culture of constant communication to build that friendship.
- Don't compare yourself - often we look at other people's friendships and wish they were ours. Your relationship with a friend might be different than their relationship with another one of your friends, but different doesn't mean better or worse. We all need different people for different reasons, it's okay to accept that.
Maybe this time I'll try to take my own advice. Sometimes I need to write things out and say them back to myself as if I'm outside of my body, talking to myself. Friendships are a big deal for me and I just want to be better at creating meaningful, deeper friendships, that's all it really is. And to all of my friends reading this blog post, I hope you will help keep me accountable to build our relationship, and I hope you'll challenge and support me by being there for me too!