Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5.9.2009 Friendship

Friendship has always been both mysterious and elusive to me.  Mysterious because I feel like I have no idea how one actually becomes 'friends' with another; elusive because I witness friendships all around me and never seem to be part of them. 

For as long as I can remember, I have had mentors in my life - adults ('elders') from whom I sought counsel, asked big questions, and bounced off ideas.  Even in elementary school, I talked to my teachers more regularly and easily than any of my peers.  At the same time, I have also had relationships in which I was the one who listened, advised, prayed for, processed or generally invested in the other person.

But I have very rarely experienced a peer relationship in which I felt we were on equal footing, that each of us was similarly interested and involved with the other's life on a true 'friend' level.  Here's my best guesses why this is the case:

1.)  I am not fun.  Seriously.  I really don't know how to just 'hang out', to make small talk, to be silly and laugh at random things.  On the flip side, when I am with someone I care about, I want to converse on a heart level, to know what's going on in their lives, to ask hard questions, and hear their stories.  But I don't think most people want to do that all the time.  Sometimes people just want to have FUN and friendships are formed in these lighter moments.  Which I don't know how to participate in.  So it's hard to be my friend. 

2.)  I am not good at serving people.  I know some amazing women who always seem to know when someone needs something, and they just give whatever that 'thing' is to the person in need.  People like that offer to take someone's kids when the mom needs a break, they invite friends over for dinner, they help move heavy stuff, they call just to check in - they simply serve.  This is so much harder for me to do.  Not because I don't care but because I rarely feel that I need something done for me; as a result, it is hard for me to think about and realize that others often need 'a little help from their friends'.  It's totally self-centered, I know. 

3.) For much of my life, I have been in a position of leadership.  As such, I have to be careful about my words, my heart, and my life on a level that many of the people around me do not.  I don't mean this in a prideful or guarded way - in fact, I think that one of my strengths is my openness and honesty with people.  But I don't have complete freedom to express every thought, complaint, problem, or struggle I have with my peers.  This is good, on many levels, but I have to believe that it also affects, however slightly, my ability to just be friends with someone. 

[I should note that I believe it is important for EVERYONE to have a safe place/person where absolutely anything can be said without judgment or fear, and this is especially true for leaders, who often close themselves off from those they're leading but do not find an appropriate outlet for such confessions/discussions.  This is one major reason I have always had a mentor - to serve that purpose for me.]

Anyway, I often reflect on my lack of friendships and feel alone.  Not lonely but definitely alone.  Sometimes I mourn this, often I ponder its cause, but I have accepted it.  I know myself well enough to distinguish between something that I should change (a prideful attitude or complaining spirit) and what might give me difficulty but is not necessary to change (being so serious all the time!). 

If you know me, maybe you have some more insight into why you're not my friend?  he he he - please don't take that too seriously :-) 

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