I was talking to a friend on the bus the other day, and we were talking about our friendships- how they’ve built along, how they’ve ended, how we’re building them. He told me how his relationships changed drastically once he moved, and that he’s no longer friends with many of his closest friends from home. And I thought to myself- that didn’t happen for me- my friends from home are still very much my friends today. And maybe I’ve been lucky in that regard. But I think it more comes from the way I handle relationships in general.
I’ve always kind of been a friend nomad, where I hop from one friend group, one interest group to another. Part of me thinks it’s for the novelty, the excitement of being around new people, people who can teach me new things and help me grow. Another part of me thinks it’s to sift out who’s awesome and who I want to be around- which is a terrible way to think about relationships, but we do it every day- pick the people we want to keep in touch with. Since I’ve been in Chicago, I’ve realized a large part of the support piece here that I need to build comes from building friendships and the like. And I think I have done so pretty well, and I have lots of good friends around town.
But I do worry about how I build friendships and relationships in general. The holiday season has given me a time to reflect on how I build them. I was thinking about the gifts I was buying people or thinking about- not a ton, and that’s okay, as I’m not a big material gift giver myself. But then I thought more generally- do I “give” in my relationships? For all friendships, it’s a relationship of giving and getting- and you have to give to get something. And really, am I giving enough of myself, my spirit, my heart, to those I care about? For my friends in New York, where I’m from, and where my childhood, high school, college friends generally reside, I only see them twice a year at most, I wonder if that’s enough to sustain our friendships in the future- so far, I’ve been pretty good about keeping in touch, and with the advent of texting, social media, phone calls, it’s gotten so much easier to connect. But am I really giving myself, am I putting in the effort forth to be that friend, to connect, to share myself, make myself vulnerable? Or, really, am I doing it in the way I want to be doing it?
I’m scared that I’m starting to do too much other stuff, “riff raff”, or that I put more time than needed into my work, my hobbies, rather than building up what is right in front of me. As much fun as those things I’m doing are, I need to be building myself and my friendships up, my anchors, my supports. Nothing’s bad now, and nothing’s as bad as it was a year and a half ago, but I know I need to build that support here in Chicago if I’m to thrive, build a life here. As something on a collage hanging on my wall says, “Sometimes building a home doesn’t require building anything at all.” And I have strong relationships here- it’s just about actually building them up, seeing people, sending nice texts, showing I am actually thinking about them. I’ve never been good about expressing my emotions and feelings to others- comes with an upbringing with my parents where I just didn’t share my emotions- and I’d like to change that. One step at a time.
And this also translates into possible romantic stuff. I think the larger fear there is that I don’t really know what it means to give and get in a relationship- or, that I’ve forgotten exactly, after being single for a good two years now (excluding all the brief relationships, flings, fun haha) . I’ve been talking about a fear of being single or something on Facebook- or, rather, a fear that I will be single in the future. Guess that’s fair- I know I don’t want to be alone, and I know only in the past few years that it’s becoming more and more okay for me to feel and be alone. But I think my larger fear in sharing those singles articles and the like is that I won’t get the chance to share my life with someone who’s my partner through it all, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that someday. For now, I am pretty happy being single, meeting people who are cool, learning from em as I move forward- I really have a lot to learn about. Part of me wants to go on an active search of someone, but most of me knows I do much better when I meet people in person, am genuinely interested in them, build a relationship over time, and if it happens to be a romantic one, then so be it. Just have to be patient, do my thing, be me, strike the pose.
Biggest thing I have to take on right now- that I need to give in order to get. I need to share myself, and I want to share myself, and how to do that is now the question moving forward. After this week of teaching I’ll have a good nine days at home in NYC to reflect whilst amongst my oldest friends, then a three-day retreat in Chicago where I can reflect on how my life in general is progressing. Hoping some good thoughts, perspectives, philosophizing, action steps come from these things. For now, I’m a teacher who, while fully prepared with materials, plans, etc., wants to avoid the fact that there’s school this morning. Ahh haha.