Being Direct

For a long time, when I was growing up and even when I became an adult, I just shoved down the way I felt even though I was miserable. I would get angry at the way I was treated by others or sad because of some reason or another and I’d just pretend it wasn’t happening. It would eat at me until I exploded. I’d get so angry that I would yell and scream and insult. It never ended well. I’m pretty sure I lost a few friendships that way. (Although the question remains if we were really good friends to begin with, if one fight could break us.)

Anyways, I finally realized the only way I’d feel better is if I talked about the way I was feeling. Then, it was up to the other person to work it out with me or decide not to be friends with me. It still sucked a lot of the times because usually the problem had arisen due our world views and ideals not aligning and that meant that it would be difficult to remain friends unless we wanted to argue or be annoyed all the time. It was better for both of us to walk away at that point. At least, we maintained our sanity and civility.

As I get closer to 40, I thought that most of the people I knew subscribed to this thought pattern. I realized recently that I was wrong. There are still a few non-confrontational people out there. And somehow, you could be doing something and never know it was happening because no one told you that you were doing it. It’s a difficult way to maintain friendships because it requires you to be perfect all the time.

I learned after having quite a few meltdowns and having a few spectacular blow out fights that it was better to be uncomfortable with someone for a few minutes but have a stronger friendship for it. I’d rather talk to someone about something even though, honestly, I dread it. I get nervous and anxious just thinking about being in that weird zone where we have to talk about our feelings. There’s the possibility that the discussion will end in a fight because you’re both arguing your point of view and no one is really listening. But there’s always the possibility that you both will figure it out and it will make you both better for it. I’ve had practice having these discussions with my husband because it’s impossible to have a happy relationship unless you’re both willing to discuss the important issues and listen honestly without getting defensive. I’ve been in the relationships where it was just attack and defend. Those aren’t any fun, trust me. You have to be able to admit that you might be at fault (even accidentally). Everyone is human. Everyone can make mistakes.

After the last few decades of my life, I also learned that it’s okay if not everyone likes you or even wants to be friends with you. My personal goal is to be honest with myself and and believe that I’m doing the best I can to love myself and to be a good person to everyone I know.

After that, whatever happens, happens.

Can A Self-Centered Person Really Be My Friend?

This thought has occurred to me before but I haven’t written about it until now. Well, at least I don’t think I have.

Throughout my life, I’ve run across different groups of girls. The story would always go something like this. We would hang out all the time but I would always feel like an outsider. It would always feel like they didn’t care whether or not I was there or not. If you have been through this at any point, you know it’s a sucky feeling to have. I would then start wondering why I didn’t fit in with them. It wasn’t because I wasn’t as pretty or smart or successful (at least, not in my eyes). Eventually, I figured out it was because they couldn’t see past themselves. I was never going to be as important to them as they were to themselves. It was a great day when I realized that it was them and not me. I knew that trying to impress them was useless and for my sanity, it was better for me to walk away.

Occasionally,  I still have to be around some of these people. And it is reminder of how truly self-centered they are. I really wish I could see into their minds and how they worked. It might help me to understand why they are the way they are.

Most people are self-centered. It is definitely a challenge to find someone who will put others ahead of themselves. I fully realize that I am also in this group of people. I like attention as much as the next person. But I am trying to be aware of these selfish tendencies and hopefully, be a better person that I am instinctively.

So why are these people like this? Is it that they think they are better than everyone else? Why do they feel as if their needs are more important than others? I see people go out of their way for them but that same action doesn’t seem to be reciprocated. It makes me sad for the people that get taken advantage of, especially when the person getting taken advantage of is someone I love.

I’ve ended up walking away from several groups of people at several different points in my life. I am glad I can finally recognize when a friendship is toxic for me. It’s hard because when these types of people bestow attention on you, you feel so special. You feel worthy and like you are important. The problem becomes when they take that attention away. All of a sudden, you feel like nothing. You try to impress them with everything you do over and over again. But why should you have to? In a friendship, shouldn’t your friend be accepting of how you are and never make you feel like less? Shouldn’t it be a 50/50 relationship?

I finally figured out that I wanted to be around people who are real and loving and caring. I wanted to be around people who would be there for me when I really needed them. I know we all need to put ourselves and our families first but what good is a friend if they aren’t there when you need them? Friends are supposed to be the family we choose. I didn’t want to hear fake compliments and shallow conversations anymore.

I honestly would rather be friendless than be friends with a self-centered person.

When We Change, Do Our Friendships Change?

Facebook keeps us connected with a lot of people we have met in our lives. I still have friends on Facebook from high school and college. And, honestly, it’s interesting to see where we end up.

Somehow, over the last few years, I’ve become completely separated from most of my friends from college. I had already separated from the friends I made at the first college I attended but now I’m not really in touch with the friends I had made at my second college as well.

When I look over the last 10 years and see the amount of friendships that have just faded, I wonder if it’s me. Is it that I’ve changed or that I haven’t kept in touch? Or is it that these friendships were never really solid in the first place and were more a matter of circumstance? Have I stayed in touch more with those people who I share a mutual interest with or was there something different that kept us connected?

We want to keep those around us that helps us be better people. And when we don’t feel good about ourselves around some, we choose to give ourselves some space. But when we look at the past, it is sad to realize that there are so many people we have walked away from or that have walked away from us.

Could we have done something differently? Could I have done something differently? Would I have wanted to do something differently? Would it have to take a sacrifice of self in order to maintain these friendships? Or just working through difficult times with certain people?

How much of ourselves do we have to give in order to stay friends with people who we have outgrown or who have outgrown us? Is it worth it? When I see so many people I know still socializing and celebrating each other’s life events (thanks completely to Facebook), I definitely do wonder if I missed out.

I know I need to focus on the people who are currently in my life and continue to work on those relationships. I don’t want to take them for granted and there is a reason that they are in my life now. I don’t want to dwell on what could have, should have, would have been.

But every now and then, I do wonder.

Small Talk

We’re Indian. Which means that even if we don’t know someone, we kind of sort of know them. So when we run into them at social events, we have to make small talk. It’s how we socialize. It’s how we get to know people. And it’s how we make sure that it’s not awkward when we see them again.

I spent a 30 minute ride home with a family friend who I’ve known my whole life in almost complete silence. Her daughters are really good friends of mine so I asked how they were doing. And that was the end of our conversation. We just had nothing to talk about. I couldn’t even think of what to say so I just sat in silence until I reached home.

There are times I will run into people that I have met before and be at a complete loss of what to say to them. Other than the standard “how are you doing” and “what are you up to”, I have nothing to say. I know small talk comes easily to some people but I’m not sure how.

I have a cousin who once told me that she manages to start conversations by just asking people about themselves. She found that people love talking about themselves and this helped her jump start any conversation. Is it that I’m not that interested in people? Or maybe it’s just that I’m too scared to start talking about anything. Maybe I’m worried what’ll people will think of me.

It’s interesting to me that that insecurity is still around. I’m at a place that I’ve established myself. I know who I am. And if I say something that everyone doesn’t like, should I even worry that much about it? I am well aware that everyone might not like me at this stage in life.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve done my job making new friends over my whole life and now, it’s harder. Now, we really have to make an effort to know someone else. Now, we have to try to find common ground that isn’t just provided to us. Before, we made friends of circumstance. We went to school with someone, they lived near us, we were in the same social group outside of school. It takes a lot to pass the insecurity we might have in order to make new friends.

Now, we have to work at it, especially if it’s a situation where you are truly there just to make friends. You have to put yourself out there. You have to find a way to make the small talk so that you can really get to know the people that you meet.

Small talk. Fun, huh?

When Our Past Returns

A few days ago, I heard from someone who I hadn’t talked to in 5 years. The last conversation we had wasn’t a good one and I never expected to hear from her again. Then, all of a sudden, I received a message, wishing me a happy birthday and congratulating me on my new kid. I was in shock and I couldn’t respond for a couple of days because I needed to process. It’s interesting when that does happen. It was a really nice message and I was glad to hear from that person. 

When a relationship of any type ends, there is usually a reason for it. I know, in this case, I had hurt the person pretty badly and I didn’t know if she would ever understand the reason behind it. It took a lot for her to message me just to say as much as she did and I really respect her for it. It makes me think that maybe she finally understood why the relationship ended. 

I’ve been through this before. Just like most people, I have had falling outs with different people throughout my life, whether it was a friend or a relationship. And, in my experience, one of the two people involved, if not both, will eventually come back and show that they have put the past behind them. There have been times when we walk away from something that is not good for us personally and hope that one day, the person involved will understand the reasons we move on. 

But, when we do finally hear from whomever we have had the problems with, it still comes as a shock. We don’t expect to hear an apology, let alone good wishes from someone who we have ended on bad terms with. 

I hope that, one day, every relationship of mine that had ended badly does eventually resolve itself. I hope that we can find a way to move past our past and maybe that will lead us to making sure our current and future relationships are good. It takes a big person to be able to walk forward and I still see people who hold onto the bad even though they have a chance to move towards the good. There are people that refuse to accept an apology or find ways to see the other side’s point of view, regardless of who was right or wrong. I don’t want to be one of those people. 

I’m not saying that everyone deserves a second chance but usually, in these types of situations, it doesn’t hurt to at least try.

Sometimes, we just need our past to return to show us where we used to be and where we are now. 

Friendships Come and Go: Just Make Sure the Good Ones Stay

I had a dream last night about a bunch of people I had made friends with in college. It was interesting because I haven’t spoken to those people in years. I have no idea why they appeared in my dreams but it did bring up old memories even within my dreams. It reminded me of why I left that school to join another school back in my home city.

They say blood is thicker than water but when your parents have migrated from a different country, that means that it’s possible that your family might not have ended up in the same place you have. It also means that you have to surround yourself with people that will become your family even if they aren’t related.

I’ve spoken about this in a previous post regarding the people I’ve grown up with. Now I want to talk about it with regards to those people we meet along the way.

When we enter new situations, we have to find people who make us feel at home. We have to find like-minded people who we can depend on, who we can trust, who we grow with. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen.  In those cases, we have to walk away. We can’t put ourselves in a spot where we feel bad about ourselves.

Situations come and go so what we need out of friends change. But no matter what the situation, we should feel like we can really depend on those people that are there at the time. But when we can’t find those people, it makes it hard for us to really thrive in that situation.

The only thing we can do then is change our situation so that we can find those people. As independent as we want to be, we need people that love us around us. For whatever reason, that’s not always possible. It is our job to try to find those people and keep them around us. It’s our job to appreciate them and make sure that we do our best to make sure the friendship lasts. Good people are hard to find and when we do, we shouldn’t take it for granted.

The Good Old Days

Last night, I got to see some of my friends that I grew up. I always love it when I get to see them because there is some sort of bond with them, even if we haven’t gone through a lot of life together. I, especially, was a little bit older than most of them so I went through college and life at a different time and place. 

When I have to describe the family I grew up with, these are the people who I see. I have family in the US but unfortunately, they are all living on the East Coast so I don’t get to see them often at all. Luckily, my parents had a very strong social group so I had my own family growing up here with me. 

It gets me thinking though. A lot of our parents moved here to this country with no family. They only had the friends that either came with them or even a bit after them. Those friends became their family. Otherwise, it’s not like our parents had their parents around that they could go running to when things got tough. A lot of them came at the age of 24-25, maybe even younger than that. Can you imagine moving to a foreign country with just someone you had married maybe less than a year before? Can you imagine moving and the technology isn’t what it is today? You had no connection to your former life, at least not on a regular basis. 

Our parents had a type of courage that I can’t even imagine. I know there are days when I just want my mom and I call her or text her or just go home and be around my childhood familiarity and comforts. Our parents didn’t have that option. It was really an all or nothing situation. And most of them survived and did well. 

I’m glad to know though that in this time of growing that they did have their friends that moved over here with them. Some of these friendships survived the test of time, some of them didn’t. But these were the people that became their family. They were the ones we called when we had good news or when we had bad news. They were the ones that would come running when we needed them. They were the ones who we would fight with and yet, somehow still remain friends. 

I am glad that those of us born to this group of people have been able to grow up together and truly remain friends as well. These are the people that are my family because they’ve known me in a way that most people will never know me. Even through the times we had all grown apart and now through the times that we get to spend together, it’s been an amazing experience. 

This post is dedicated to the children of the junior group. Thank you for being there.