Tag Archives: friends

| Don’t worry, you know that I’ve got me |

I may have mentioned this once or twice, but I have trust issues.

I started seeing a therapist a few months ago, because I recognized that I have developed a pattern of extending myself to others, then flipping the switch and isolating myself from people. There isn’t a regular time frame to this cycle. I know what it looks like, however.

I am currently in the throws of one such cycle. I am observing the choices that are presented to me and I see myself making the choices that alienate me. My therapist asked me to identify what it is that I get from being alone, that I can’t get from being around other people. Why would I choose to be alone. My answer came quickly…

SAFETY

I will never hurt myself. I know my triggers, I know the solutions. Unless you have ever seen me react to a musical. Then it would obvious that you know those things can soothe me like none other 😉. I can (and will) care for myself better than anyone else. A big reason for this is because I just won’t let anyone else. To be more accurate, I hadn’t until the last year.

If you know me, you’ve unfortunately been exposed to this cycle (I apologize). I’ll be around and active and all about spending time with you, then I’ll just drop off the face of the earth. Sooner or later, I’ll emerge as suddenly as I disappeared, almost as if I’d never been gone.

If we are friends, I apologize to you. I’m ashamed to admit that in most cases, I keep things superficial. I’ll let you share with me when you’re hurting or upset. I’ll give you advice (whether or not you want it, oops). I’ll encourage you if you need a little push. However, I will not let you do that for me.

I’m sorry that I haven’t trusted you enough to let you be an ally. I didn’t think highly enough of you that I could trust you to keep a secret for me. I didn’t believe you when you thought that something I said was interesting or entertaining. I sold you short and thought that the strength of our friendship was directly correlated to how much I could do for you, in hopes that you wouldn’t notice me keeping you at arm’s length.

When I ask myself what I’m looking for, I realize that I’m looking for someone (or some people) that will have my back. I’m looking for a ride or die, a group of friends that feel like family, a steady roster of folk that I can enlist for my audacious adventures whenever the mood strikes. People that won’t pass out when I wax poetic about the genius of Timbaland or geek out over Pokemon Go (Yes, I’m one of those people).

However, this does not happen by magic. I can’t expect to find depth of relationship if I don’t dig a little deeper myself. So, after my apologizing, I would like to ask for some help.

Don’t be afraid to ask me the hard questions. Ask me how I’m really doing, ask me about how I’m moving forward in life, how I’m challenging myself. Ask me what I want to accomplish within the next year. Don’t take my wishy-washy non-committal answers. Invite me to get vulnerable.

I need all the practice that I can get.

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|Turning it around|

It’s a lovely summer day. 9 year old Justin is at a daycare/camp and is sitting on the ground enjoying Chip n’ Dale’s rescue rangers. Disney Afternoon is one of his favorite mid afternoon entertainment options. Things are good. It’s not too warm, it’s not too cool, and the afternoon snack was almost on it’s way. What a living right? When out of nowhere, a fellow daycamper reaches out and caresses him on the cheek. It was a little strange, but it seemed like a nice gesture. Who doesn’t like to be touched right? The girl didn’t seem mean, so it was just taken as a nice gesture. A good afternoon indeed… Until a friend looks at Justin and points at him then starts laughing. What the heck!? The little boy asks what was on his face. Confused, Justin runs to a restroom and examines his face, only to find that there was a large booger on the side of his face. “Why would someone do something like that?” Why would someone decide that I was the one who should be on the receiving end of that?”

That was the day that 9 year old Justin decided that people were either plain cruel, or that there was something that was not good enough about him that made people want to do stupid stuff like that to him. It didn’t just happen in that daycare/camp. Stuff like that happened at school too, and this one of the last straws. 

During a break from an intense nerding session a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting and conversing with one of my favorite people, my friend Laura. We spoke a bit about friendships and how they are important. They can be life giving and affirming. I began to speak about a trend that I have had in my life, where I make these friendships that are mostly one sided. I loved being able to be a person that someone came to for advice, and to just hear people out about their problems, but it was never an action that was reciprocated. Not that I met a bunch of jerky people who didn’t care, but I would just close out any tough issues or problems that I was experiencing from people. It was better, in my head, to be that someone who would be there for anyone, than to have to rely on other people for help or guidance (which becomes a real problem, when you don’t want to take your own advice… As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog entry.) This, coupled with my usual tendency to try and be a bridger of people lead me to flutter between friends groups without a lot of big effort. People always have problems, and usually like to talk things out, which gave me the perfect opportunity to be useful, and never have to divulge too much…

Although, I realized that I was definitely lacking the type of friendships that would be life-giving. I was spending so much time trying to protect myself that I gave no opportunities for anyone to help, and I began to really believe that it was just because people didn’t care to invest in me (the human mind can be a crazy dangerous thing, if you’re not careful). The way that I justified this behavior was to push through and convince myself that it was always the safest thing to not divulge too much to any one specific person, because it would just come back to me later and bite me. What wasn’t always apparent to me (thank you Laura), was the fact that this hardness was one of the ways that I was giving signs of rejection to lots of people. It was not just me being scared and protecting myself, it was a way of me saying: “I want to be important enough to you for you to confide in me, but you are not good enough to be that person for me.” I definitely developed a deep attitude of: “I got me. I got you (if you need), but me first. 

Honestly, I saw that this approach to things really tired me out. I was wiped after doing any kind of ministry work, or just gathering with friends. It got to the point that I would not be willing to seek out any normal activities. I just wanted to always be in a place that was relatively familiar, with little to no work for me to have to do in terms of getting to know people or making new friends. After 4 years of this feeling, I see that I need to reverse the trend.

Me putting myself out there with people is not something that shows me to be weak. It actually is a show of strength that I can be willing to go out to someone and let them invest in me just as I can invest in them. I might end up with a booger on my face, but going through things like that will only serve  for me to be much more effective in discerning who is worth putting time into, and really appreciating the people who I have had the chance to set up those mutually respectful relationships with. That is the new challenge for me. I need to go out and get my hands dirty with people. This could be a crazy thing to go for, or it could be one of those experiences where I realize that one of the things that makes living life magnificent instead of tolerable is giving of myself by actually sharing myself with people. 

If you read my blog, and I know you in real life, let’s set up some time to converse about things! Chances are, I have been MIA and probably hard to get a hold of. I am sorry for pushing you away, or declining to attend your events. I’m working on getting back to my A game 🙂

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| A little help? |

How does one make friends at work?

Most people would naturally assume that i’m just some super genial, fantastic, awesome-type dude (I did not pay these people for this opinion. I’m surprised too!). However, this may not be the actual case. I mean, I do have my moments, but I’m not going to say that I can agree or disagree with either side. The lovers love me, and the haters gon’ hate.

In college, I guess it was a little bit more easily defined. You either spent lots of time secretly stalking someone, until you got the courage to start up a study group (oh, was that just me? Dammit, I give away way too much information in this blog.). Usually something really simple, like cracking a joke in class, or affirming someone who actually had the balls to say something funny in class. People bond over things that are snarky, like judging the person who is always volunteering their 2 cents, no matter how off base they might be. Of course, the easiest way to make friends was just to get involved in some kind of extra-curricular. The chess club is a a great place to find solid friends! Actually, now that I think about it, the easiest way to make a friend in college was this classic line: “have we met before? my name is <insert name here>, nice to meet you. This is especially useful at a place like UC Davis, where the city is tiny and the school composes like 89% of the town.

Now then, outside of school it poses a little more of a problem. I can assume that you’d most easily make friends in your most frequented spots, doing your favorite activites. Unless you’re insanely popular, this might mean your workplace. I do know a lot of people who are rather opposed to this idea. Work and fun should be left completely separate. What is a loser an introvert to do? There might be some criteria to keep in mind. It’s quite possible that you might not be able to sail through smoothly. I know, that sounded like a personal attack. No one should doubt your tenacity and the sparkling caliber of your personality (how dare I overlook that! I’ll be severely punished later). Here are a few things that I have tried in my endless pursuit of being understood accepted loved tolerated respected noticed included.

Bribery

I’m going for the dirtiest tricks first. Being kindly to people is always a nice way to develop a long lasting and meaningful friendship. This can start with bringing a co-worker a weekly beer. Everyone likes alcohol, and no one hates the hand that keeps them running on the sauce. Let’s be real, if I’m willing to trek from one side of the office to the other with frosty refreshment for you, I really can’t be all that bad now can I? NOPE. This makes you alright in most people’s books. If they don’t drink, you shouldn’t fret. There are other ways in which you can win friendship through servitude. Just yesterday, I tried to cement a friendship I had been working on for weeks, by a small purchase. She likes maple bars, but never is able to find the right one. I found her a maple bar on the way to work, and left it on her desk. EASY PEASY.

Small purchases are awesome on 2 fronts:

  1. They show that you have good intentions, and were thinking about the other person.
  2. Small purchases make you seem like less of a stalker than a random expensive gift. (What the hell made you think that she wanted a tennis bracelet or a 30 dollar lunch? She barely knows you… CREEPER)

Random Outings

Another good way to make friends with folk is through random interactions. There is always something. A company party, a Friday night kickback, some sporting event. If your job sponsors such fanciful post-work activities, you should be down for participating. No one gets hurt by hanging out. If you’re part of some kind of club/collective, you can make sure that you’re there for the fun times. Again, just being in a place with people will really increase your chances of talking to folk, which increases the chances that you’ll find something in common with someone. Finding something in common with people is a rock solid ice breaker! You might as well have a “Let’s Be BFF’s!” shirt on (unless you’re a heavily dedicated watcher of a polarizing show like Glee or Jersey Shore). I don’t have anything against either of these shows, just for the record. I happen to not have cable, so Jersey Shore isn’t really on my agenda.

Common interests lead to random, life giving conversations. You might be in the company kitchen, awaiting the hallowed arrival of the weekly breakfast bagels or just in line for the newest brew of your company’s delicious house coffee. These are great times to strike up conversation. Not only do you get a great chance to continue the process of waking up (that so hastily commenced with the stupid alarm clock blaring it’s praises to you) but you might be able to get a lay of the land before things start up.

Feedings

Lunch times are a great way to get to know people and establish future fun times. Everyone has to eat right? You can corner the market by inviting a co-worker to lunch! Even better, instead of just eating at your desk, you might want to go over to the communal lunch area (or local bench) and see what’s up! Who can turn down the chance to learn more about someone while eating a delicious meal (maybe like, I don’t know, a Kimchi burrito? mmmMMMM!!!!). Invite a group of people to check out a local eatery and you have a social gathering that’s on and poppin’! Food is also a great distraction for awkward moments. Eerie silence sprouting over your conversation? Wow, look, my mouth is empty and I have 8 quality bites left with my burrito!!! Instant exit plan from said awkward situation. You’re welcome, full, and totally cool.

Smiling

This is a really underrated trick. Many office workers forget to put on their smiles. I mean, they are at work (hopefully, your place of employment is a joy to be at and not the bane of your existence). Walking around and being friendly to people is a great way to suck people in disarm people’s inhibitions and fears. Oh man, there were many people who I at one time thought really wanted me dead, or just hated life, because their glares could cut through even the most happy soul and leave emo wounds all over the place! *shudder* I’m sorry that went so dark. It HAD to be discussed. Don’t be one of those people, no one likes those people, and they don’t get invited to things (I thought we spoke about this… You’re setting yourself up for failure). Yelling and cursing is not inviting and warm. GET IT TOGETHER FUCKER! STOP BITCHING OUT AND BE A DAMN NICE PERSON, SHIT!

oops. I got a little out of control there. *ahem* I’m good.

Now then, trying this tactics, you should have great success with creating friends out of co-workers.  My advice is always evolving and growing. I’m constantly trying things out and trying to win people over. 60% of the time, it works every time!

Try it… What have you got to lose? You enjoy those lonely nights in your basement with Glee? (DAMMIT, I said I wasn’t going to make this entry personal. FAIL)

Good Luck!

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