December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)
This year I had to learn a painful lesson about “proximity friends” – not for the first time, just again. Like most introverts-who-crave-social-validation, in an unfamiliar social situation I’ll find the person I most relate to and it’ll be Us against the World until either we both realize the world is preferable, not as scary as we thought, we meet other people we also like, or until Us combusts in a fiery pit of hurt feelings and too-soon-intimacy.
What I had to learn from 2010’s Edition of Proximity Friendship was that I am still Such A People Pleaser – I find it very difficult to set my own boundaries, to calmly and directly bring it to the attention of the Boundary Crosser without coming away feeling like I was totally in the wrong.
I had a friend this year who it could be either very rewarding or very punishing to be close to, and I think it helped shake open my worldview to the idea that just because somebody wants to be your friend, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in your best interest to be their friend. Let’s just say more than one confrontation ended with me storming up or down Broadway in angry tears just waiting, waiting for the jackass maitre’d on 44th street to open his mouth and hiss something at me so I could impale him on his podium.
And that’s not what good friendship is.
Good friendship is balanced, and reciprocal, and founded on common interests. What I had to learn this year was the friendly application of Live and Let Live, where it’s perfectly possible just..not to feel something towards someone you know but don’t particularly care for. To just nod and smile politely, or return a facebook message cordially, or ignore a passive aggressive tweet….
That is what I’ve learned about friendship this year – how not to get in over my head and then thrash around until I’m out, bridge burned and friendship-bracelet-slapped.