Friends: How Many Of Us KEEP Them?

I do a lot of self-checking and reflection on my life from time to time to ensure that I’m on the right track and doing the right things.  So, you can probably guess that I spend a lot of my life tweaking and trying to fix things that aren’t right or could be better about.  My name is Jessica and I am a recovering perfectionist……..[hi Jessica!].  Anyway, so this concept of “friends” has been an issue with me ever since childhood.  I’ve never been one to have a lot of friends, but I’ve always desired to have a few meaningful relationships.

When I talk about my past I might say that we moved a lot, but when I think about it we really only moved like 3 times.  Maybe all the church hopping made it seem like we kept moving.  Well anyway, we may have only moved 3 times, but it seems like those were all critical times of my life.  I don’t remember the first move because I was only like 2 years old.  We moved from NY to SC, and we stayed there for 6 years.  Of course moving from state to state can be hard, so I’m sure there was a huge adjustment period there.  I moved with my parents and my one year old brother at the time.  Shortly after there was a new baby introduced–my sister.  We got a little older and started playing with the neighborhood kids, but didn’t develop any relationships with them.  So, at age 8 we moved again to GA.  We stayed in that location for 2 years.  Once again, we played with the neighborhood kids, but it was nothing serious.  The good thing about having siblings close to your age is that you have “instant friends.”  You know, since we’re soo close in age we were all into the same things at the same times, so we just stuck together.  Let me pause this story to say that all of these moves included what felt like several HUNDRED church moves in between them!  You KNOW that’s not healthy!  Play.  Anyway, at age 10 (that would mean 5th grade) we moved again across town to the house that I finished growing up in.  Now you know…there is no way that I was going to make any friends in 5th grade.  Most of those kids had been together for forever and were not accepting applications for new prospects.  Don’t get me wrong, I met some cool people that I liked, but again…no relationship.  Even if I did we probably wouldn’t see each other anymore because we would all change schools the next year, and if we didn’t go to the same school or even have the same classes at the same school, then that would be the end.  I went to another school the next year and another school the year after that!  So here I am in 7th grade (that would be what…12 years old?) with no friends…well, hold on…I take that back.  I had ONE friend from the ONE church that we managed to spend a little time at, but I was very frustrated with the way things were going with her.  We were friends, but to me it seemed that the relationship would be one-sided most of the time.  We met at church, so obviously we hung out at church.  She would invite me to her house at times, but for the most part that was the end of it for her.  We didn’t communicate outside of church unless I called her.  To this day that is a pet peeve of mine.  How are two people supposed to develop a relationship if only one person is doing all the communicating?  Maybe it can work, but not with me.  I am the kind of person that doesn’t like to be a bother.  So, if I’m calling, emailing, or texting you all the time and you never reciprocate–or even respond!–then after a while I get tired of trying to get your attention.  In my mind maybe you’re not really feeling me, maybe I’m not important enough, or maybe you just don’t want to be friends with me.  So, after a while I stop contacting you.  It’s not that I don’t like you anymore, because I still want to be friends with you, but I don’t have energy to waste and until you try to contact me you’re not going to hear from me anymore.

So, that scenario played out soo many times, and after a while I was like…man, is there something wrong with me?  Why don’t I have a lot of friends?  Am I not as good of a friend as I thought I was?  My self-image has taken soo many hits over the course of my life.  Last month I was combing over my life again and it dawned on me that perhaps I’m not really the problem, but maybe I just choose the wrong people.  Don’t get me wrong, the people I try to be friends with aren’t bad people.  As a matter of fact they are great!  Why do you think I wanted to be friends with them??  lol, but anyway, perhaps they didn’t fit in my life as well as I thought they might.  But anyway, I was thinking about what I think a friend should be and if I actually had those qualities or not…and I do!  I’m loyal, honest, helpful, and I DO reach out as much as I can!  See, I was thinking that I needed to do a better job of like staying in touch and stuff, but that’s the very thing that exhausts me in these non-friendships.  I do need to do a better job, but I do keep up better than most people I know!  One thing I’ve been learning is that it is ok to acknowledge the fact that I do something well, pat myself on the back sometimes, and just not be afraid to have more confidence about myself.  Anyway, so although I saw some things that I could be better about, for the most part I stood up to my own definition of what a friend should be.

Lately I’ve been noticing that there are some people in my life who I’ve been trying to develop a relationship with that I just need to abort those missions.  If it hasn’t worked by now, then it probably never will.  It’s not that I want to have 100 friends because I don’t, it’s just that I can be very determined at times and don’t want to give up easily.  However, I think a part of growing up is knowing when to let go.  I’ve also seen glimpses of other people who are trying to be friends with ME, but I’ve been too busy trying to mend all these other relationships that are going nowhere.  Imagine that…people who are interested in me for a change.  Methinks I like that :-).  So, what have I learned from this?  Let go of the deadweights in my life, and embrace the fresh fire!

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