I have very few friends. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite confident I can act friendly with just about anyone I meet, but there are very few I can call with confidence friends… those with whom I can be friendly out of sheer admiration and without expecting anything in return. Mutual respect and reciprocal altruism are hard to come by for me.
To begin with, I do not have good feelings about making friends. I used to move around every two to three years when I was growing up, so it got too stressful to repeat forming emotional bonds and then breaking them. And it all felt useless to go through the pain of pecking my way through an already established social order every time I moved to a new place, only to have that place taken away in a short while for reasons beyond my control. What is the point of building friendship if I have to give it up anyway?
It also did not help that I was “different” – not only was I an irregularity thrown into a normally constant society, I did not look the same or speak the same or think the same. I was often seen as not having common sense (*theirs*, mind you… I believe I understand the basic rules of being human, but how am I to know every local custom!). Do people want to befriend me because of who I am, or because I am something they have never seen, and thus, an object of interest?
But these are probably not the only causes in my having very few friends. My brother was in the exact same situation, but he has a natural talent for making friends, and staying in touch with them long after we have moved away. I tried looking for years for the things he has that I do not, but these days I am thinking he does not have the thing I have – namely, insecurities. He never seems to think, what if people see me as being too different and will not like me, and reject my proposal to join their society?
So, a little bit of all of the above, and in time, I stopped wanting to make friends and became comfortable being on my own. I came to think that I would rather be without friends than to have to squeeze myself in somewhere or to conform to some image someone has of me or to nibble away at my self-worth by confronting my biggest fears.
Then how is it that I still have friends, albeit only a very few?
Maybe it is just a miracle (or they are miracles sent to me from Someone Up There who felt sorry for me).
Maybe they have the same natural talent for making and keeping friends as my brother.
Or maybe they are essentially no different from any other, just with a lot more patience and acceptance.
But maybe I no longer find the need to make friends just for the sake of having friends, and I now see people outside the framework of social belonging.
Maybe with my newly cleared vision, I see my friends having something that I admire and simply enjoy being in their company, even if they never look my way.
And maybe, just maybe, the fact that they do return a look to me means they see me the same way?
In any case, through them, I am beginning to think that maybe friendship is not about fitting people into a uniform mold you call “friends,” but about finding fitting people who will come to take the form – and thus the title – of “friends” in you just by being themselves. I suppose, either way, it can be called a “fitting” friendship… but I would only call the latter group of people my true friends.
Nowadays, thanks to my friends, I have learned through firsthand experience how to take part in mutual respect and reciprocal altruism. I still like having downtime, but feel more at ease being with people I call friends. Can you believe I sometimes even take charge planning outings with them, and actually have fun while I am at it?!
I’ve got one finally laid out for the coming weekend – I hope I have prepared a fitting event for a dear friend…