Putting the “i” in Friend

I’ve been struggling lately with some of the friendships in my life. As someone with a disability who let that mean I wasn’t as worthy as other people, I often clung to the idea I had to have a lot of friends. That having a lot of friends automatically made me “cool” or valuable. But as I get older, I realize it’s much more about quality versus quantity and I’m just not sure if the quality is there anymore with some people, or maybe even that it ever really was.

But then I go back to that age-old question I always pose…where’s the boundary between expectations and getting what you need? Part of me thinks I’m wrong for expecting anything out of people or out of my friends. That if I just let those go then I would be much happier. But the other part of me thinks there’s nothing wrong with wanting a friendship to be a two way street. I get so exhausted sometimes from putting myself out there and trying to be a good friend. I don’t mean that to sound like I’m the greatest friend ever because I certainly have room for improvement too. But sometimes I can literally just feel everything kind of piling on top of me because I’m texting this person, trying to make plans with this one or trying to include this one. Then I end up not getting a response, the person flakes out and the friend doesn’t make any attempt to include me. I don’t think anyone really likes to feel like they come in second or don’t mean as much to the other person as the other person does to them. It honestly makes me feel like an idiot sometimes.

I try to remember what Buddhism or the Dalai Lama would say about compassion. You’re supposed to give it without getting anything in return. It’s not supposed to be an “I’ll be there for you as a friend and be compassionate but only if you give me that in return.” Sometimes though, I just feel like I empty out my compassion tank so I don’t lose a friend or hurt anyone’s feelings.

I know what I do feel though. I feel extremely lucky for those friends I do have that put in the effort. Who send me cards and flowers just to show me they care. Who call or text to check in. Who are there at the drop of a hat when I need to talk, even if they don’t live anywhere near me. Who just…care and show that they do. The rest I think I’ll figure out with time but at least I know I have some great people by my side while I do.

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10 thoughts on “Putting the “i” in Friend

  1. Jackie, it sound like you are growing in wisdoms. From an older perspective, you do start to figure out who are true friends, and those that are called “Fair Weather Friends”. True, real friend will be there for you no matter what, however you must recriprocate compassion and friendship yourself, they too can burn out if you are not careful with your words and deeds. Fair Weather Friends will be there if you throw a party with free food and free booze, but they are nowhere to be found when you just need someone to talk to. When you need help you can count on yout real friends.

    I am glad to hear the growth in your wisdom it is a large step that you have just taken.

    I dearly hope you will call me one of your friends. You can email me anytime at heidrunsearles@icloud.com

    Peace,
    Heidrun

  2. Hey Jackie, my name is Minh and I am from Loma Linda University, Master of Occupational Therapy. First of all I want to thank you for sharing your experiences. I too have the same experience that you do with trying to touch base with friends. The way that I see it, good friends are people who will make the effort. If you try to keep in touch with people and they don’t respond then they are not worth it. I know many people will say they are busy with their lives and they don’t have the time to do it but I think they are just making excuses. If it is important to them, then busy or not they will make priority for it. For example I have this friend who I used to be close with until he moved to San Diego, California for his job. Both of us are busy and we don’t have the time to keep in contact as much. Sometimes I would try to text him and see what is he doing for the weekend. He hardly ever respond anymore and it sad to say that we are not that close. In my experience if the person does not make the effort to spend time with you, then why bother try it in the first place. A quote that I heard from Father Greg Boyle of Homeboys Industry, he said that “don’t go searching for love, love what you find,” and it help me to appreciate the friends that I have now, compare to people who used to be friends. Well thank you so much, and I hope everything is well.
    Minh

    1. Hi Minh. I completely agree, I think no matter how busy people are, if they truly care they will find the time to be a good friend. I love that quote also! What a great reminder to appreciate what we have instead of seeking out what we feel we don’t have.

  3. Jackie, it sounds like you’re really figuring out the keys to reducing frustration with friendships. I’ve been trying to lower my own expectations lately so I don’t get disappointed as easily, and it seems to help. I think it also helps to be more aware of which are your true friends and which are basically just acquaintances. You can focus more on developing and maintaining the real friendships that mean something to your life, and let some others fall by the wayside. Some people are just clutter in our lives anyway, right?

    I will say though, that I do think it’s important for a REAL friendship to be a two-way street. It’s not emotionally healthy if the other person is always taking and you’re always giving. So don’t exhaust yourself trying to force a relationship if the other person isn’t as invested in it as you are. You deserve better than that. (I don’t mean to come off like I’m preaching to you — I think I’m talking to myself as much as to you, LOL.) Thanks for this thoughtful post.

  4. Hi Jackie,
    My name is Milena and I am an MOT student at Loma LInda University. Thank you so much for allowing me and my classmates to be a part of your life and experiences. It was so interesting to read what you wrote about friendship… sometimes I feel the same, that I am the only one working to keep the friendship, but suddenly something happens and I need help and my few friends are there for me. Those situations make me realize that I need to focus on being grateful to my real friends; few friends, but friends that are there for me. So.. like you I am very thankful for those friends that call me or text me even if it is once in a while because I know they will be always there for me and my family.

    1. Hi Milena. Thanks so much for the comment! It’s funny you say that you feel you’re the only one working towards a friendship and then something happens and you realize how much you need the friends you have. I was actually in a pretty bad car accident yesterday (a blog post will definitely be coming soon about that) and it really showed me who and how much people care. A lot of people from work and from life reached out and it was really touching. It’s so great to have those people in your life that you know, no matter what, they’ll be there for you!

  5. Hey, Jackie,
    My name is Saloni and I am an MOT student from Loma Linda University. First and foremost, I just want to thank you for sharing your past and current life experiences with us. It was really interesting to read your blog about friendship. I too believe that it is the quality of friends that matter, not the quantity. I think it is very natural to have expectations for our loved ones. For the people we care most about, the people who we would be there for in a second, we would hope that they’d do the same for us. But sometimes life isn’t that way. I think it is in the difficult moments of life that we see who truly cares. On that note, I hope you’re doing well after the car accident. The picture you posted looked quite scary. Sending good energy your way. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Saloni.

      Thanks so much for the comment. I think you put it perfectly, that we hope that the people we care about would return that favor. It’s extremely ironic I posted this just days before I got into my car accident. Something like that really does show you who cares and I’ve been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I’ve gotten. Worrying about the effort other people were putting in etc. definitely kind of took a backseat (pun not intended) after the accident. I was definitely hit pretty hard an am very very lucky that I didn’t sustain any serious injuries. The good energy is much appreciated and thanks again for the feedback 🙂

  6. Hey there Jackie!

    I am a Loma Linda University occupational therapy student. First, I want to say that I am glad that you are okay from that accident:-) Your car was pretty damaged.

    I have struggled for a long time trying to maintain or I guess you could say “hold” onto relationships in my life; be it family or friends. It is definitely a challenge these days to keep in contact. However, with all of the technology out there it is also easier than ever for people to keep in contact. This is why it drives me crazy when people don’t keep in touch…lol. Oh yeah, and the “I am busy” line drives me bonkers…lol. I mean come on, we are all “busy” in our own ways.

    I have come to the realization that the people that are going to be there for me in my time of need may not always call, text, or email me, but they will be there WHENEVER I need them. I ll admit it is definitely not easy at times but I have come to accept it:-) There are some people that I have just had to let go in my life because relationships are two ways and people don’t always see it that way. Make sure you do whatever is going to make you happy and feel better:-)

    As for your “Up and Down” blog….I joined a social group called “meet up”. The group can be found online at meetup.com. They have social groups for everything in pretty much every state. The groups range from hiking, socializing, knitting, making, game playing, new mothers, etc. They are all pretty much free too! You just go to their website, type in where you live and what you are interested in and then a bunch of groups pop up in your area. Each group has a calendar with their events and you just sign up whenever you feel like going out. There is literally something to do every night of the week! It is good because a lot of people are in the same boat as you and wanna go out and have fun but all of their friends are in relationships etc. This is a great way to meet new people and socialize. Sure, you may not know anyone at the social event but that is how you make friends:-) I once went to a party with 80 people and knew NOBODY and had a great time! Hey, you may even meet a guy! I did the online dating and it wasn’t for me. At least I gave it a shot…lol. I have met a lot of people who have met their significant other online. I agree that the online thing is frustrating at times but you gotta just keep picking yourself up and putting yourself out there:-)

    Sorry for the long post! Hope that you are feeling better:-)
    Cheers
    Tiffany

    1. Hi Tiffany.

      Thanks for the comment and well wishes! It was definitely a pretty bad accident so I’m very lucky I came out of the ER without any severe injuries. I actually joined Meetup about 5 years ago. I was in an all 20-30 something women’s group and a co-ed one. Unfortunately neither of them really panned out. I didn’t make any long lasting friendships from the women’s one and didn’t find any common interests with people in the co-ed one (I did go on a few dates with one of the guys though! Haha). I’ve looked for other groups since in the area but many don’t have people my age in them or are for active people which because of my disability just isn’t really something I can participate in. I’m always glad it’s an option though and you new groups are always being created. When I wrote that post, I was really just having a pity party and going through a rut. My social life picked up just like it always does shortly after. I’ve only been home for one full weekend this entire month because I’ve been out doing stuff. The accident really helped put everything in perspective for me. I got a great outpouring of love and support from so many people that the small things I was worried about before seem really minor now, including dating. Life is short and right now I want to spend it focusing on me and all the people around me that I love and that love me. If I find someone…great, if not, that’s ok too 🙂 Thanks again for the comment!

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