I’ve had a blog post stewing in my head all weekend. This is not that blog post (that one will be better organized and thought-out). This one hit me like a Mack truck on a dark road, and I’ve barely thought it out at all. I had an idea, I wanted to explore, I’m taking you along for the ride (if you keep reading, but I’ll know if you don’t, and it’s cool).
I mentioned in a post earlier this summer that I’m a person who works hard to maintain friendships and, because I don’t like losing friends, I have a few friends that I’ve known since I started pre-school when I was three years old. One of those friends is Kim. It occurs to me tonight that we’ve known each other for about 24 years now, which seems insane to me, but I can’t really remember life without Kim. I don’t remember meeting her. I’ve just always known her. We aren’t as close as we used to be back in our school days, but we still keep up with each other and our moms are really good friends, too, so that helps. As I was working on editing my novel the other night, I was reading over some description and realized that the friendship that I’d described between my main character and her best friend was loosely based on Kim’s and my friendship in junior high. So when I found out tonight that she got engaged, I was really excited for her. For about a half hour we traded texts that included a lot of exclamation points (something that is very uncharacteristic of me), a picture of the ring, lots of questions, lots of answers, and lots of capital letters. While I was and am very genuinely excited for her, it didn’t take me very long to realize that part of my happiness was as a result of simply connecting with someone. I feel like that doesn’t happen much for me as often, especially because I’m away from everyone I would consider my closest friends.
A lot of people would say that I’m an open book. I freely yammer on to close friends about the mundane details of my life, and I never miss the fact that most other people aren’t quite so giving with details. I’ve been told on numerous occasions that my facial expressions give me away, but I still maintain that I just naturally look pissed off. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “that’s just the way my face looks.” But the thing is that I tell people what I want them to know. Truthfully, I feel a little scared when I come across someone who sees right through me, calls me out, and has me figured out, sometimes even better than I have myself figured out, because, well, not many people get that far. It’s both scary and comforting when it happens, and it doesn’t happen often.
Growing up, I had my core group of girls that I hung out with. These were the girls I gossiped and talked about boys with and whose houses I went to for sleepovers. There were a lot of things I couldn’t talk to them about, though; not because I thought they would judge me, but because I didn’t want them to know that part of me. They all tried to tell me to stay away from this guy in high school. I didn’t listen and it drove a wedge in there. I just couldn’t talk to them about many things after that. Since then, I’ve sat in rooms with groups of my other girlfriends (friends I made in my early-to-mid 20s) as they’ve talked about wanting to be in relationships, married life, and kids. I’ve sat in on conversations about health concerns and financial issues, and I’ve felt like I’ve wanted to say something, but I just couldn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust my friends, but maybe I don’t trust myself.
When it comes to socializing and just “being myself” around people, I will tell you (incase you haven’t noticed) that I was a very late bloomer. So late, in fact, that there are fourth graders who are already more socially adept than I am. I’m a work in progress, and that’s too much work for a lot of people. I think that I’m more comfortable by myself, but I actually hate it. I hate that I feel that there are so few people who get me that any time I need to talk, I worry about annoying them and driving them away.
What that little bit of time spent texting Kim tonight reminded me was how much I miss having female companionship. I don’t want to feel apologetic about the fact that sometimes I get really girly. I don’t want to worry about whether someone is going to roll their eyes at me or worse. I don’t want to pretend I don’t care when I do. I think that what I want the most is just to be able to feel like I can be real with somebody, and especially with myself. When I try, I feel like I just screw up. And I think that the reason that I don’t find girl friends that I connect with completely is because there aren’t a lot of girls like me. Or maybe every girl is like me. I don’t know.
Girls like me are moody, but we want our friends to appreciate that. We can be super bitchy, but we aren’t bitches, and we don’t want you to take it personally… unless we do want you to take it personally for some reason. We’ll keep people at arm’s length when we’re dying to let them in. We try to bring them in and we freak out because we’re afraid we’re going to be “that weird girl who can’t pull it off.” We get comfortable and we can have intelligent and sometimes philosophical conversations about books or the world or life because we love to use our brains. We’re not sure how smart we actually are and end up having conversations about bodily wastes. We make messes. We burp. We die a little bit inside when someone says to us “I’d give you a hug but you don’t seem like the hugging type.” We despise seeming unapproachable and unfriendly. We love hugs almost more than anything. We want someone to get that. We talk about boys. We talk about makeup. We go shopping and critique clothes. We might question what ridiculous thing Tyra Banks would say about that outfit. We play with our hair. We can be really shallow. We’re more often a lot deeper than people realize.
And of course, by we, I mean me.
And of course I’ve had girl friends with whom I could talk about a number of these things, but it’s been a long time since I’ve connected enough to be able to feel comfortable showing all sides of myself. I just want to do that. Maybe it’s just because I’m bored and I spend most of my time sitting in my parents’ house, where at the age of nearly 28 I live, looking for jobs. Don’t get my wrong – I value all of my friends and I’m grateful for them, regardless of how well I think they know me or what parts of me they know (I’m reminded of a friend who was alarmed the first time she saw me sad because for five years, I felt this insane need to be not just happy, but hyper, silly, and ridiculous when we hung out. That’s me sometimes. That’s not me all the time). I hate it that every time I start to feel comfortable with someone, something happens that makes me freeze up and rethink everything. I want to bulldoze the freaking walls I’ve spent 28 years building around myself.
I’m still trying to figure myself (and everything else) out, and I probably always will be. I don’t think that’s a bad thing most of the time. I wish it was as easy to let my guard down as it is to be constantly thinking about all of this stuff. I get the whole way to the end of this (and bravo if you stuck it out because this is free-writing in its rawest form), and I realize that what made me so happy earlier, in addition to my excitement for my friend’s engagement, was that I had a totally girly “SQUEEE!!!!” kind of moment and I got teary-eyed and I felt fine about it because I knew she didn’t care. I need so much more of that, I think.
Then again, maybe it’s just me.
screw up, observe real friends come back because they love ya, repeat until it sinks in?
Lots to think about here…
congratulations to your friend, by the way.
it’s not just you, all girls are like this except for those really freaky ones who work in lame secular culture restaurants serving beers to middle aged business men.
i love it and hate it when you post things like this, love it because it makes you more 3d to me. hate it because it makes me realize how far away i am and what a bad friend i am. also makes me wonder if you consider me a friend since we haven’t laid eyes on each other since middle school. one of these days when i get out to visit the relatives you so better want to see me. understand?!
This post got to me, Renee. I am a very late bloomer too. I can identify with so much here. I want you to know, for what it’s worth, that I know how you feel and that I am honestly sorry we didn’t get to know each other better in college. That was largely my fault. I should have been more intentional about making friends, especially in our own department, and especially with people with whom I had mutual friends anyway. However, for what it’s worth, I am always here now. I no longer live in Bedford (it’d be more convenient if I did!) but the Internet makes conversing much easier these days.
I will be thinking of you and praying for you, and, also, reading. :)
P.S. Your live feed kind of freaked me out. I was like “Raleigh, North Carolina…hey, that’s me!!”
Haha! Sorry to freak you out with the live feed ;)
It’s so funny because there are a number of people that I’ve gotten to know a bit better since college – especially through Facebook and blogs. I have never been incredibly outgoing and so I’m slow to make friends. For that reason, I think, I cling pretty tightly (which is probably not always a good thing) to the ones I have. But then again, I guess everyone does that to some extent. Some of the people that I thought in college I’d be friends with forever…. I rarely, if ever, speak to. It’s weird how it all works out.
I’m glad that you enjoyed this post because I really enjoy your blog, too! And thank you so much for your kind comments. It really means a lot :)