I Still Don’t Know How to Friend

I’ve had so many thoughts whirling about in my brain over the last twenty-four hours for blog posts. Now that I’m at my computer, they’ve seemed to scurry under the covers like I should be doing. An old dog barking to go out at 4 a.m. is hell on my sleep schedule.

Conversation

Do all introverts over-analyze the minutiae of every interaction with other human beings? What was said, how it was said, what wasn’t said. Was I too loud? Did I come on too strong? Did I remember to verbalize the appropriate responses? Did I keep from rolling my eyes? Was it obvious I wanted to escape? Did I cling to the one person who made me feel comfortable?

Is the angst worth it?

I was ten when a new family moved into the suburban house across the street. A good Catholic family with six kids. Three of the girls were within a year of me. The dynamic of the neighborhood changed overnight. I’d lived there all my life. I was comfortable. But now, these kids were outside, playing, laughing and suddenly I felt like the interloper. I didn’t know how to fit in, join in, to my changed landscape. I stayed in the house most of that summer because I couldn’t go across the street and ask if I could play. The stakes were too high. What if they said no? I would be extricated from my own neighborhood. It was easier to retreat than to be forced out.

Eventually, I crossed the street and made a friend. It was okay for a year, until the day the little girl across the street, my best friend, stopped speaking to me. Darkness and despair followed. As well as embarrassment and self-recrimination. It lasted for six miserable months. Six months of exile without a clue why. Then the family moved.

Are friends worth it?

I know many people who can sort through the flotsam and jetsam of relationships, picking up the good and letting the sea take the rest. Ignoring the difficult without a second thought. Like water off a duck’s back.

I have to pick up each piece, catalogue and store it all, even the tiniest shard. Later, I take out each one and turn them over in my hands, examining every detail. Lists of defects are gathered, pondered over and blame is placed, usually upon myself.

Is it because friendships are so much work for an introvert that we have so few of them? Or are our circles drawn to only allow a few?

Or maybe we just don’t know how to do the friend thing.

I remember my mother sending me off to camp with the words, if you want a friend, be a friend. So much pressure. It was all up to me. I could have friends if I acted right, but then, if I didn’t have friends it was all my fault.

And what was acting right? What were the rules, the expectations? Did the other kids know them? How did they know what eluded me? Or did they never think about these things?

I still don’t know how to friend. Yes, I made that a verb. Friend. Definition: To act in the acceptable way to be a friend.

Over my life, my friends have mostly been simple extroverts. Simple because they don’t overthink life, they live it. Duckies who let it all roll off their backs. I don’t have to worry about offending them by making a misstep. They aren’t sticklers for the rules of friending. They are the safe ones. The ones that live in the moment and give my brain a rest.

God bless the duckies. All introverts need a ducky or two.

One thought on “I Still Don’t Know How to Friend

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  1. I am neither introvert nor extrovert, but I am introvert and extrovert depending on the situation and if my circle is with me. I believe you know how to friend.
    The experience will differ from person to person depending on numerous factors such as biology, early child development, adolescent experiences, how one embraces stress, etc.
    I don’t know if we’ll find the answer to, “Do all introverts over-analyze the minutiae of every interaction with other human beings?”
    One should ask oneself, why do some people analyze the minutiae of every interaction with other human beings?
    And then search for the answers by asking that question of people who analyze.
    Are friends worth it? That depends on what friendship means to the individual asking the question. (Some can’t do the friend thing) My world honors the idea of relationships, and FRIENDSHIP is in the upper echelon. (Everyone lives in their world and the planet’s world)
    Everything is hard work until it “feels” like it’s not. Some of us can handle uncomfortable sensations with the appearance of ease, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy; it does allow for less internal friction while achieving goals.The concept of 10,000 hours comes to mind. Hm– do expectations and preconceived notions play a part?

    Sometimes, it’s just a matter changing perspective. We might already have what we’ve been looking for.

    As an adult, embrace belief… learn from the past, hope for the future, and then, live in the moment.

    Like

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