unfriendable

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

My longest friendships are women I have known since childhood…and who currently do not live anywhere near me.

I find it difficult to maintain friendships as an adult. I have no problem making friends, but keeping them or having them develop into something meaningful, that is difficult for me.

I have never had a problem plopping down next to someone in class or in a meeting or wherever and making small talk. As a student, turning to work with whoever was next to me was not an issue. Getting put into groups with people I didn’t know made no difference to me. In fact, in middle and high school my teachers often told my parents that it just didn’t matter where they moved my seat, I would talk to whoever was there.

But maintaining friendships is hard for me.

My best friends–who live far away–are relatively low-maintenance. We rarely talk, sometimes text, and see each other only a handful of times a year. We pick up where we left off when we see each other, but other than texts and cards, we don’t really talk otherwise.  But I know that when I need them, they are there.  And I know they know that about me too.

But the friends I have here…close to me…I am not a good friend to them.

Because I don’t know how.

I am uncomfortable a lot. I get nervous that I will do or say something that will instantly make me not “hangout-able”.

Being friendly with people is easy; being real friends is difficult.

When someone says, “Hey, we should see that movie sometime,” I know know if they are just being nice or they would really like to hang out. So I say, “yeah! I would love that!” and then I wait for them to set it up because I am afraid if I try to set it up, I will look like I am pressuring them to do something they maybe didn’t want to REALLY do in the first place. Maybe they were just being nice.

So I wait for someone to make the first move, and when someone does go through with setting up legit plans with me, I get so anxious that half the time I end up cancelling because I am so paranoid and overwhelmed that I will be a complete letdown.

It’s also hard for me to set aside time to actually have a friend. I have local friends, don’t get me wrong. The problem is, they all live a minimum of a thirty-minute drive away from my house, so it’s not like we can every just randomly drop in.

I do  have a couple friends that actually lives in my neighborhood (::waves at Kelsey and Sarah::), but I feel like my life is so different from theirs. I am running around like a woman possessed during the school year, and only really get to spend time with them in the summer when we can have play dates.

I feel like I know what it is to be a good friend, but I feel a little unfriendable.

I want my friends to know I think about them often, but I don’t find the time to tell them.

I see them update their social media about fun things they are doing and I get sad and jealous, even though it’s my own fault for never inviting people over or asking them out to coffee or a movie. It’s my fault for canceling or being unavailable so often that I just don’t get an invite anymore.

The truth is I feel inadequate. I feel that I am not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough to hang out with the people I call friends.

The way my life is right now, my family and my job are my priorities. This leaves little time for hanging with friends.

I look at my planner and I realize that I have made myself unfriendable.

Maybe subconsciously I do this on purpose. I avoid rejection by filling my life with things (my jobs) and people (my family) who won’t reject me. Ever.

I throw myself into my work–both teaching and blogging/writing–to the point where any extra time I have, I give to my family. I don’t even know how to start with having a “regular friend”.

And now that I have written  all of this, I am afraid that any friends who attempt to spend time with me, are doing it out of pity and the experience of hanging out with me will be truly underwhelming and I will never hear from them again.

I am making this all much harder than it should be, I am sure.

Do You Want to Play Basketball?

“You guys wanna play basketball with me?”

He stood on the very edge of our lawn in his shorts and hoodie holding a small basketball.

The other bigger kids continued to chase each other and play.  One kid lingered on the edge of their lawn near to where Eddie was standing.

“Hey! Do you guys want to play basketball with me?!?” He asked louder.

Even though the one kid was hanging near, he still managed to effectively ignore my little guy.

Eddie looked down at his Little Tikes basketball. I couldn’t see his face from my place by the kitchen window, but I could guess at the questions going through his mind. Why won’t they answer me?  Why wouldn’t they want to play with  me?

“HEY! WANT TO PLAY BASKETBALL WITH ME?!?!”

I called Cort to see.  Eddie was obeying the rules and staying in our yard.  He even kept checking his feet to make sure they were not over the line.  I could tell he was antsy to go run and play tag.

Earlier that day we had heard him yelling outside in the front yard, when we peeked out the window, he was yelling down the street, “HEY!  GUYS!  COME HERE!  I WANNA TALK TO YOU!” to the kids playing down the road.

We live on a dead end where the neighbor kids like to spend time digging holes for no other reason than to dig holes.  Eddie likes to watch them.  They also cut into the woods from the dead end and trek back to the field behind our house.  There’s a creek back there and they like to catch crayfish and frogs.  This particular afternoon, Digger Boy (the boy who digs the holes, and yes, this is the name Eddie refers to him as) and his brothers had a bucket of fish and frogs and they came into our yard to show Eddie and Cort.  Eddie thought it was just wonderful.

So for the rest of the day, when he saw neighbor kids, he wanted so badly to play with them.

They are all at least five years older than Eddie is, and have no interest in playing with a three-year-old.

But Eddie doesn’t understand this, and so he stands on the edge of the yard, doing his best to make friends without breaking the rules of leaving the yard.

“I’m going to put on shorts and go play basketball with him for a bit,” Cort tells me as he rubs my back.  I have been watching him with tears in my eyes for a couple minutes.

“Thank you,” I tell him before I call out the window to Eddie asking him if Daddy can play with him.

“Daddy?  He wants to play basketball?  Yay!  I want to play too!”

As I got Charlie’s jammies on I heard lots of giggling and chasing going on around the house before Cort and Eddie burst in all smiles and exhaustion.

Eddie is so bold and makes friends so easily.  He is so much braver than I was at that age.  I am so proud when I see him feeling comfortable talking to other kids, but I feel those old fears of rejection that I clung too tightly to as a child.

Luckily for me, Cort reads my worry and nerves and jumps in before Eddie’s feelings can be hurt.

Besides, I think Eddie prefers to hang with his Dad rather than some dumb neighbor kids any day.

2013-04-27 13.36.23

Cort and Eddie build a fence.

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