If you haven’t already, please read the introduction post. That will give you context for this page.
I suppose this ties into the last two weeks’ posts. I mean, maybe this is because I’m an introvert and I’m reclusive.
When I was younger, I scrambled for friendships. I think that I did it because society taught me that having loads of friends was normal and a measure of just how well I was doing in life. I think that I did it because I thought that enough friends would prove (to others and to myself) that I had worth. I think that I did it because I was afraid of what I might find if I were alone with myself.
But I…I want to say I outgrew that, but I don’t want to imply that there was anything wrong with wanting loads of friends. In fact, I think it probably is normal to want that. That the majority of people, for at least part of their lives, want that. I don’t look down on people for wanting it.
But as I grew to really like myself and not be afraid to be alone with me. As I spent time alone with me and found that I really, really loved being alone. As I learned that “normal” didn’t necessarily mean “better” or “best for everyone.” As I had some really incredible friends who helped me see that that was the level of friendship I wanted if I were going to put aside the art I was making or the beauty of solitude and give time and attention to other people. As that all happened, I grew into a self who had rather high standards for friendship.
Now, I understand that what I consider my bottom line for friendship is higher than what others consider that line. I know what you probably mean when you call someone a friend. And I don’t judge you for that. What right is it of mine to judge? Friendships are personal things, aren’t they?
And I use the word “friend” the way that you do when I talk to you, because I don’t see the value in having to preface every use with an explanation and with, I’ve learned from experience, trying to help you not feel hurt that, whilst I like you as much as people that you like and call “friend,” I don’t use that word the same way and…Yeah, it gets a bit much.
It’s been very clearly communicated to me, by people who I do consider friends, who meet my unusually strict and odd standards, that I ought to be ashamed of myself for having such high standards. (Or even for knowing clearly when people fall in my concentric circles of relationships.) They claim it means I’m unfriendly and cold and…Well, you get the point.
As with some of the other topics about which I’ve written, I’m sorry, sincerely, if this one hurts your feelings. And I couldn’t tell you precisely why my brain has a very different picture for “friend” than yours does. (Mine probably looks more like what you consider your best friends.) Maybe I actually took to heart those idealised descriptions of what friends are in programmes, films, and books.
But you’ll see that I still treat you kindly; I don’t automatically treat people who aren’t my friends poorly. And I can still enjoy your company. And I won’t correct you if you call us “friends.” (Not unless I feel like what you are to me is less than what typical people would consider a friend. And, even then, I don’t correct to be mean. I believe in being honest and that knowing where we stand with each other is the best for both of us.)
Anyway, in case you can’t tell from this post or what section of the site it’s in, I’m not ashamed. Even if I didn’t have a different bar, I wouldn’t be ashamed. I don’t say this about everything on my Not Ashamed list, but: I believe we’d all profit from being very selective about our friends. We should all have only friends who are truly well-intentioned when it comes to us. Who set aside their jealousy to celebrate our victories. Who kindly, and without turning it into gossip fodder or finding some perverse satisfaction in it, hold each other in defeats. Who can be trusted with our vulnerable parts and our secrets. (And, let’s be honest, I have trust issues, so it’s not necessarily an insult if you don’t get my trust.)
Everybody ought to feel loved and supported by their friends. If your friends make you feel uneasy or attacked or unsupported, maybe you ought to join me in being very selective.
And, like me, don’t be ashamed of that. It’s better to be selective, to walk alone if you must, until you find those who deserve your goodness.
(One more note: I’m sure the world has many great people who could be my good friends. But I’m also sure that finding and being friends with all of them would lead me to neglect my arts and the sanity that comes to me from solitude. I don’t feel like I “gotta catch ‘em all.” And no shame if you can’t catch me, even if you are super awesome and we are well-suited. I’m actually a difficult friend. No, really. Have you read the other posts here? I might adore you madly and think of you constantly, but that won’t be enough to get me to find nearly as much time for you as most people seem to want. Consider this so-called shameful quirk of mine your saving.)
Now, go out and be selective! You deserve it.
Cross-posted to the Not Ashamed section of my site (so that it’s all tidy).