Friends come and go, some relationships are in and out like the tide and others are just perfect all the time.
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve had a lot of different interactions with different friends, and it’s been good for my soul. Some I see often, and others not so much. There’s something about being able to call/text someone you haven’t seen in months, figure out a time to visit and realize that although time has passed, that friendship is still strong.
Not many people know, but I was asked to be in a wedding this summer, and then about a month or so after I lost my job, was “un-asked” to be in the wedding. I did my best to take it in stride, wedding parties are hard to nail down, and things do change, but when you’re told that “you just aren’t a good enough friend” after helping pick out the bridesmaid dresses and help with other things, it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve come to terms with it, and while it sucks, I really don’t want to have people who push me out around. It was an eye-opening moment, even though I was terribly upset and irritated for a week or so. I hadn’t had something like that happen since high school when my friends said I wasn’t living enough of a “peaceful existence” to be friends with them. Basically, it was that I didn’t listen to the same music they did. (I know, right!?)
I felt like I was kicked while I was down, and I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t get angry, well… I did, but not in the way I expected. I figured I’d get all huffy and puffy, cuss a lot and throw things like I used to, but I didn’t. I was calm, I was sad, I was hurt more than anything, and most of all, I was disappointed. I’m not sure if I was disappointed in the actions of the other person, or in myself for “not being a better friend.” Looking back, I was just fine. I went out of my way to hang out, and help, and be around for happy hour and whatnot. I was there and I was present. The only things I couldn’t control were the feelings and mindset of the other person in the situation.
Nevertheless, that good ol’ comforting feeling of inadequacy crept in and started to degrade every part of me. Was I not wealthy enough? Was I too tall? Too large? Too unemployed? Too everything? I realized I was beating myself up left and right for reasons that I can’t really explain. None of this was my fault, but I made sure that I felt like it was, which made me more angry. This time, at myself. I shouldn’t be forcing myself to feel this way. I need to stop. Soon.
That inadequacy hung around until I went to Europe. Not while I was in New York, but the minute I landed in Europe. I’ve never been greeted with such sincerity, such compassion and lack of judgement. I was afraid that I’d be seen as a typical American, and that was my biggest fear. Luckily, I wasn’t. I was accepted, I was comfortable and I felt better about myself. Some friends of mine think I’m crazy when I say that I’ve never been complimented so much while I was in Europe, but it’s so true. Compliments here are usually a bit backhanded, “even though you’re so tall, I love your calves.” or, the best one ever, “you know, for a bigger girl, you dress really well.” I’m sorry, what? I can’t just have a nice style or something? I don’t know, I guess I don’t get it, but I don’t understand why we can’t just say a nice thing without cutting each other down at the same time. In Spain, I was told I was beautiful and intriguing by many people, friends and strangers alike (mostly at the wedding I was at so it wasn’t totally creepy). As soon as I landed at JFK before my connection home, I had to remind myself that I wouldn’t hear those things anymore. That I wasn’t the same person here, that I wouldn’t be received the same. So, sorry if I’m a little cautious when someone compliments me… I just don’t really believe it.
This post is kind of a whirlwind, but it all kind of came from this post by Everyday Feminism that seriously had me in tears while I read it. The idea that I’m a horrible person because I’m not tiny is ridiculous. I do my best to eat right and exercise, but no matter what I do, I don’t actually lose weight. My body starts to look different, but the scale doesn’t change. I can’t really help this, so I’m doing my best. I’m smart, I’m educated, I’m funny, I’m limitless and I’m loyal, but to a lot of people, I’m lazy, ugly, careless, undisciplined and whatever else you want to add to the list. Deep down, I know I’m not those things, but after years of hearing them, it’s hard to break a habit like that.
I’m not quite sure how to close this entry, other than downright begging people to be kinder and genuinely nicer to someone. If you compliment someone, do it with authenticity. Be genuine. Tell them why, not just “you look nice,” but why they caught your eye. It’s important, and we need to start doing it more. To each other and to ourselves… because, as Alexis Jones of I Am That Girl put it at Fourth Estate, if people knew the way we all talked to ourselves, they’d be appalled. Be nicer.