Wednesday, February 20, 2013

30 Growing Pains: When To Update Your Friend Status

A huge moment in my life is about to happen.  Thursday February 21, 2013 is my half birthday and while I've celebrated my half birthdays long since they were in the single digits this one in particular holds a lot of weight.  I will be 29 and a half, 6 months until I turn the big 3-0.  Turning 30 is a very serious deal that each woman must learn to embrace with open arms.  In the process of getting yourself ready to turn 30 there are usually trials and tribulations that each must experience before embarking upon the new journey.  Last August when I turned 29 I was excited to make the most of my last year as a twenty-something.  But when I turned 26 and 27 I cried because I felt like I was getting too old, too quickly.  When I turned 28, I forced myself to suck it up and not worry about it.

One of those growing pains tends to rear its ugly head in the mid-to-late twenties when you realize that some of your relationships need to be questioned.  Those strictly platonic relationships.  The ones that either you really do rely on or you are just expected to maintain the relationship because it was strong in junior high or high school.

I have always been one to stay in touch.  I try very hard to keep up with someone and while I may have 6 months or a year of faltering I absolutely refuse many years to pass if I want to make sure to maintain a serious relationship with someone.  Recently, I contacted my friend Kayla who I went to college with.  We had a great time together as floormates and Co-RA's but for some reason when we graduated we went completely separate ways.  Oddly enough we were connected more than by college, we both had very dear family members in the same small town with a population of 1200 and our families went to the same church there.  So definitely that was a relationship not to be lost.  But for some reason we just forgot.

I always make sure to send a Christmas card to everyone who I feel is important enough to stay in our lives whether or not we talk to them regularly.  This way each person knows that even though we don't spend a lot of time chatting that we do think of them often.  This year our list was like 86 cards, trimmed down.  I know, gasp right?  It does get expensive but it is so worth it to have that communication.  And even though John and I are a couple with no children we try to send custom cards with photos to make the small amount of communication a bit more quality.  Now, I know some of you are thinking "why should I send a card to family and friends when they aren't going care enough to send one to me".  For ten years I have tried to stay away from that awful negative attitude.  I am a lover and I do want to embrace everyone.  So I shake my head and say of course I am going to send a card to ALL of my family and friends.  Well at my 29th Christmas I finally had an epiphany that probably came with age or pure exhaustion.  Why in the world should I try so hard for people who are either lazy or just don't care about relationships the way I do.   Immediately I tried to push the idea out of my head as it was very taboo and new to me but it the thought wouldn't leave my head. This was something that I had to bring it up to my best friend, Rhonda for some heavy criticism.  I needed to air out the topic with someone who is similar to me on many levels until I could determine what was just right for me.  So when my 30th Christmas arrives this December I will have a well trimmed list, well right now I have only pre-trimmed maybe 15 people but it is a start.  And I don't regret it one bit.  My best friends helped me to realize that this is the time in my life is about weeding out those great and amazing relationships from those that are struggling, crippling, or just useless.  Luckily I have a circle of best friends that bubble around my age so that we all  relate to the one another's crisis about the same time in our lives.  Rhonda is barely a few years ahead of me while Casie and Allison are a year or few below.  So between the four of us I would say my problems are solved, well almost.  Sometimes I do need to call on someone well beyond our years for that well-advised conversation.  That is were my aunts and Nannie come in.

My first clue that I was outgrowing certain relationships was during the preparation for my wedding.  Actually no, it was probably during college when a specific friend would be dishonest about certain communications between us and constantly use the excuse "Oh you are always to busy for us to hang out".  I guess she was a master at my schedule since she only called me when she wanted something but of course I had to be the ultimate friend and hang on for dear life.  Partially because that was what was expected in our home life.  But once you start to prepare for your wedding you begin to realize that you're no longer a college kid anymore.  During my wedding I was far from everyone, but in a beautiful region that I dreamed to have my wedding...the coast.  Two of my bridesmaids were going to have to travel across country while the third lived in Florida but was attending college about 4 hours away.  I should have realized when one of them depended solely on one-way communication that something was up.  The bridesmaid refused to spend anytime with me during her weekend in Florida while all the other girls were at my side night and day. She then made up the excuse that she had told me ahead of time that she could not afford to get her hair done for the wedding.  Well at that point I just decided to give up because it wasn't worth it.  If she would have been open with me she then would have known that her hair would have been paid for...by the bride.  Each bridesmaid had something different were I would try to help them out, not much but something to offset the expense of a friends wedding.  Unfortunately I did pay full price for a bridesmaid who threw out to me 12 hours prior that she was not planning to accompany me anywhere.  Maybe another clue was when she made a snide comment about me smashing a bug on her wedding dress years prior when I was assigned dress bug removal duty at an outdoor wedding.  Who knows but it was long there....

Another person who I called a great friend shared countless special moments with me.  From homecoming, shopping, and summer camp to parents divorces and marriages.  It was great and I thoroughly enjoyed spending nights at her house for sleepovers and hanging out with her parents.  We definitely went through a lot together but the one thing that always hung over my head is that she would steal from me.  Not money, she didn't need the cash, no she would just take things.  It was weird, I chalked it up to just something harmless she did because the things were so tiny and really meaningless material items.  In sixth grade, my crafty self started making and selling leather keychains with the pony beads and metal decorative plate.  You remember the trend?  The suede lace was strung through the center of the decorative plate (usually a circle or a heart) and the beads were placed on each end of the suede that was hanging out.  Oh, the trends in junior high.  It was very country.  Anyway she took one of those out of my bag while we were sitting in the cafeteria and said that another friend gave it to her.  Really she could have just asked me for it, I think I was only selling them for $1.50 or something.  Oh the silly woes of young ones.  It went on over the years with things like clicking pencil erasers and costume necklaces.  But other than that our friendship remained the same.  She was sweet to me and included me in a lot of activities and we always enjoyed one another's company so I ignored the subject quite a bit.  One day after high school the nail was put into the coffin.  This was ultimately our last sleepover as we were off to college, ready to embark our separate ways.  One last good hurrah.  She asked me if I wanted to see her coin collection that she had been working on over years.  It was a nice collection and I commented that way.  And then she said, "Now that I showed this to you, you aren't going to try and steal it from me, are you?"  I just looked at her in disbelief.  I couldn't believe that she would ask me that.  Of everyone in our large group of friends, I was the only one who didn't talk behind someone's back and I didn't spread horrible lies about each other like everyone else in our high school friend group.  She should know that I wouldn't dream of anything so disrespectful and not to mention I wasn't the one who stole things but that was when I realized that she was asking because she wondered what it would be like tables turned.  I guess a bit of morbid curiosity.  She is still nice but there are many other things that I realized that don't quite make us match up like a puzzle piece anymore.  Enough to fortunately know that is the type of situation I no longer will put myself in as an adult.

More recently I briefly visited some high school friends during a trip to Illinois.  As we were about to leave I passed out my goodbye hugs.  During those hugs I gave out one extra that was extremely awkward.  First of all let me clarify that I hate making people feel left out because I think it is extremely rude, even if I don't know them or don't like them.  I was raised to be cordial and polite regardless.  So I gave a goodbye hug to this one person who I have actually never been friends with but we had many mutual friends and were on the same sports team and shared classes.  We hung out because our friends hung out but frankly that was were it stopped.  The hug was so weird and so forced that after I thought what the heck am I doing?  No one else goes to such lengths and then comes out with a meaningless hug and awkward looks.  I don't want any hug that I give to be meaningless, it's sad and wasteful.  Looking back I did that with a Christmas present for her one year, perfume from a dollar store so she wouldn't be left out.  This was the moment I realized that I don't have to put myself out there because of someone else...I can just be myself and not be rude.  And not cave in to other peoples woes.

But you know it doesn't stop there.  One of my Floridian friends had a scheduled lunch date with two of her own friends.  She gets to the restaurant and corresponds with them via phone and text messages the entire time.  They tell her that they are on their way.  This goes back and forth over something like a twenty minute period.  She finally orders her lunch without them so that she won't be late on her return trip to work.  They then tell her that they are going to arrive any minute and that they are not around the corner.  They never come.  They were just leading her on the entire time like school children.   After that they never explained themselves, just played around like kids.  Really?  Why stand-up someone at a lunch?!

To make matters worse today we have new struggles that other generations have not ever had to face when it comes to relationships, those that come along with an internet attachment.  With all of this social media hype society has apparently forgotten common courtesy.  To some points were they are just rude and disrespectful.  Now I will clarify that this does not include an event where there are a mass amount of people invited and that you have posted an open invitation on a social site.  This is about a private event where you have sent out physical invitations and had private conversations with those guests, confirming their intent.  Last summer, I had an intimate dessert and drink event in celebration of my 29th birthday in our home.  Because of the specific party accessories I had chosen for this event I was limited to only eight attendees.  It was painful because there were some people who I wanted to join us that ultimately ended up on a waiting list.  It was strictly dependent on RSVP's of others that would decide if I could send the next person an invite.  I am not shallow and would normally not have a wait list for my birthday, we just had a very tiny apartment and anymore than 8 would have been uncomfortable.  One person decided after we discussed (their) attendance to text me ten minutes before everyone was to arrive stating that she sent me a Facebook message to back out of attending an hour earlier because of poor planning on her part.   In the text she mentioned that we will get together for lunch instead.  I contacted twice over the next few weeks and never heard from her again.  Awful, just awful.  So much for that summer of joyful company we had together, that was swiftly flushed down the toilet.  

At the end of my journey it is sad that some of those friendships have had to come to a close, but I am not going to weep or loose sleep over it.  In fact, I am more relieved that they have.  At some point you have to realize for yourself that the person you platonic love for just is not good for you, requiring you to move on to have a successful life.  You enjoy the great moments that you had together and just be thankful they will shape you for the better.

2 comments:

  1. Yea, myself Ive known the feeling of disconnect with friends. Leaving for the military shortly after high school, many of my close friendships seem barely even like acquaintances now... Friends going to college, getting married, etc... Though I do miss everyone so much and the friendships we had( at least hope we had). You make new friends, but again you move or they move. They promise to stay in touch... Most of them dont. You realize quickly who the folks that are really your friends and the ones that only want to be your friend when it is convenient for them. It seems there is always more of the " not really your friends". Unfortunately this among other things has bittered me over the years. I do too find/have found myself hanging out with people that are more friends of a friend or friend of a family member than actually friends with me. We need to cherish what real friendships we still have (our friends and family) that are still around.

    ~Tammy D.

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  2. Very well said -- you are growing up with not only knowledge but wisdom!! I send out many cards at Christmas -- I do so to feeling that I am keeping in connect even through a card letting them know I'm still thinking and praying for them -- they do not have to send me one back --- for over 10 years I have sent a card to one "friend" who has not send any to me - but that is fine -- the cost is priceless to me -- and most likely I'll continue forever!

    I am very proud of how much you have grown and matured these last few years -- stay strong and believe me the LORD is holding and guiding you -- HE will continue to teach and love you - forever!

    Love you -- Nannie

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