With my experiences, I’ve become more self-aware of who I am as an individual. I am conscious of my strengths, my weaknesses, and behaviors that don’t necessarily support who I would like to be. Although I consider myself to be compassionate and a connector of people, I find myself disconnecting and withdrawing from those closest to me when something is done that hurts or disappoints me.
Reflecting on past relationships, I realize how comfortable it is to dismiss the situations and disagreements that make me uncomfortable, and how easy it is for me to detach. To be self-aware is to know that this is an unhealthy character flaw; one that I am actively working to improve.
I also came to the realization on how receptive I was to releasing control and being vulnerable with my partner during difficult times, rather than being open to doing the same with friends, and that made me think.
Society Idealizes Romantic Relationships
I am ALL for some gooood loving. However, I can’t disregard how the idea of love has affected my life. I have found myself dating out of availability and sacrificing a lot of myself – subconsciously thinking that I only had two options; ‘settle or be alone’. Those options materialized based off of what I saw in movies and even more, what I saw in familial relationships.
I was conflicted with what I saw. It was either leniency and acceptance from older, traditional relationships or the stigma associated with being single – because of how uncompromising we are when it comes to our personal values. Although I am fully content with being single and developing my craft, I’ve welcomed the idea of creating my own standards of what I would like my relationships to look like.
Not only does society idealize romantic relationships, but it seems like it’s valued over friendships. This has conditioned many of us to believe that romantic relationships are the ultimate goal andthe key to finding happiness and fulfillment. In various ways, we adhere to the idea that we are not necessarily whole ourselves, so we find a partner who can fill that hole in our lives.
This adversely leads us to the constant pressure of finding a partner and settling out of fear of being on our own. This can potentially become a revolving door of people coming in and out of our lives in hopes of them possibly filling a void of self-love.
But what I think society doesn’t display enough is the importance of friendships – something I personally still don’t see represented in the media enough. I think we need to get rid of the idea that we need a partner to feel whole. Friends – TRUE friends are the ones who are around for a lifetime, the ones we don’t have to impress or have any expectations. They are the most influential relationships we experience, but seldom talked about.
The Struggle with Putting Myself Out There
As an introvert, it’s sometimes difficult for me to put myself out there and make friends, especially in new environments. I experience various levels of social anxiety that result in me overthinking almost everything around me. In new environments, I’ve found myself withdrawing from people by being on my phone or having my earphones in, out of fear of experiencing rejection. I think a lot of my social anxiety stemmed from my insecurities of how people may negatively perceive me.
But the reality is, we are our own worst enemy and we judge ourselves more frequently than anyone else. Knowing this, I slowly began to put myself out there and began engaging – slowly falling in love with the experience of meeting new people and building memorable connections.
Making Friends Is Easy
Back in the day, it was much easier to make friends. High school and college provided us with a group of people with similar circumstances. You mostly became friends with a person because you share the same classes, joined the same clubs/teams, became roommates or just hung out with the same group of people. But once we leave the environment that brought us together, we go on a journey of self-discovery and often times lose the closeness we had with half of those friends.
This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t real or organic, it just means that it was mainly circumstantial. If you are someone who still has a strong friendship with a person you met earlier in life or grew up with, value that because it is a rarity.
One of the most misleading ideas about friendships is that it’s always a naturally flowing occurrence – and in some cases it does, I can attest to that! However, as I learn the many dynamics of a friendship, I begin to understand what friendship truly means. It’s interesting how we already know most of the qualities and traits we want in a partner, but don’t share the same prerequisites for friendships. I believe one reason is partially because we put too much emphasis on romantic relationships, and not enough on building quality friendships.