I am well well-suited to write this post for I fulfill the top three qualifications to be the worst friend…
I’ve always loved being with friends, laughing and hanging with great women, drinking and sharing memories with others who appreciate a self-deprecating story.
But I hate upkeep. I recognized this rather early in life–7th grade to be exact. My friend Jan would come to school each morning with little notes, letters really, folded into cute football shapes that she would hand out to others. “Notes” were all the rage. Although we may have spent time on the phone the past evening sharing details of the day and processing love advice, the meat of the relationship was often committed to paper and passed on to friends the following morning. The expectation was that a similarly revealing, engaging, and revelation-filled note would be reciprocated. I hated this ritual and refused to participate. It all just seemed so…unnecessary.
Fast forward to today. New rituals exist that I don’t participate in. Problem. My non-participation prevents me from being a good friend. Here are my three ways to kill or disable a friendship.
#1 Ignore emails, texts or Facebook messages. I’m not sure why, but whenever I get one of these, I feel anxiety. I just recently got a message from a wonderful woman who I used to work with. I ADORE her and miss her so much. Now that she moved to a new place of employment, I rarely see or hear from her. Then I received a message where she wanted to know if I was interested in participating in an annual meditation event that we did together in the past. I loved getting her message…and then, I. didn’t. reply.
#2 Be too busy. “Hey,” my friend approaches me in the hallway at school. She is smiling and clearly wants to talk. “Are you planning on going to The Fox tonight?” A work social event was planned weeks ago. But I’d forgotten all about it. What is the first thing that pops into my mind? Aubrey has a dance class. Kadon has music practice. Luka needs to do a lesson in his online history class.
My evenings are ALWAYS spoken for by kid/family responsibilities. It just seems so HARD to reschedule so that everyone is schooled, fed, and taken care of.
#3 Forget birthdays and anniversaries. Although I regularly addy “Happy Birthday Girl”” plus cake emoji, plus party horn emoji, plus crazy smiley face emoji to the list of others offering well wishes via Facebook, I rarely acknowledge the event otherwise.
I feel bad about this–I actually did not put a birthdate into my Facebook profile so most people don’t know my birthday and therefore don’t send greetings my way. It seems fairer…
I have this history of being a rotten friend dating back more than 40 years. There are people that I miss desperately and want to get together with, but I’m afraid to even text. What might happen if I actually send out a couple of small “I’m thinking of you” kind of cards this week? I have the time, the desire, the resources.
Michelle wrote a post a while ago about turning over a new leaf now that she is 50. Well, I’ve passed that milestone, but I think it’s time for me to commit to change also. I am going to become a “note” writer. It will be my adult version of the 7th-grade notes that were so carefully folded into 2-inch little triangle shapes. Because what is/was really the goal of notes, phone calls, birthday greetings?
I see you,
I want you to know me.
I want to know you.
I care about us.