“We don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice. We can’t believe that anyone would be unkind to us and still be genuinely fond of us, although we do it all the time. Years ago, a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase. But I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.” – Tim Kreider (READ THE ARTICLE TOO)
Yesterday I was in the mood to write a blog post so I could finally share some of the thoughts I have meant to flesh out recently, but after I procrastinated that for an hour, I came across a simple post on Instagram from a quote account I follow. I mostly follow it for its aesthetics, if I’m being completely honest. I like the gradients, the pretty colors, the font. But the post from yesterday, captured above, hit me so hard that everything I’ve been worried about for a while now suddenly connected into one giant problem that I now understand! That’s cool.
I’ve had a lot of trouble with friendships throughout my life, starting around middle school when I started to despise being alone (mostly because I thought everyone was hanging out without me). In high school it took a while but I found my people, or so I thought. And in college I tried to find my people, I might have found them, I don’t know, or so I thought. It seemed that everyone I tried to count on, or even counted on in the past, just let me down one small incident at a time that by the time I tried to bring up my grievances, they didn’t get it. I felt, and I still feel, like an irrelevant human being that doesn’t deserve friends. That is the biggest lie I believe about myself.
I don’t want to 100% put this on myself, because I know for a fact I have encountered some grade-A horrible human beings that for sure wronged me, but I think I project this feeling outward. I also have hyper-focused on it this summer to the point I stopped doing things I was supposed to do to improve the quality of my life, like clean my room or take a shower at a convenient time or write in my journal. All because I was convinced my life was boring because people weren’t knocking on my door to hang out with me. I was just waiting for them to do so, and I lost the whole point in the process. If you just live your life and focus on what you do have control of (yourself and your actions), people will come to you. Friendship isn’t a job; while it does take work, it’s supposed to be fun work that will benefit you and other people, like volunteering.
I remember freshman year towards the end of the year when I sat on a field eating a papaya by myself while I watched everyone around me play frisbee with their friends, listen to music with their friends, skateboard with their friends, study for finals with their friends. I’ve had so many moments like that; visible representations that I’m very, very alone. They all seemed to happen in college, but when they started to happen at home, the place where I am comfortable and can be myself, I noticed that it wasn’t college. It wasn’t being away from my home at all. If you tell yourself you don’t deserve friends, and after each friendship that fizzles out you blame it wholly on yourself, you aren’t going to make good friends. You’re going to get desperate. And I got desperate and gravitated towards people that sucked the life out of me. This also happened during an identity crisis, which I think I’m towards the end of! (or maybe my life is just one big identity crisis!)
That identity crisis is the crux of why I struggle to make friends. I used to think that no one wanted to be friends with me because I was confusing; I dressed seven different ways each week, I went to the gym for two weeks and then didn’t go for two months; I listened to Alvvays and Current Joys but also Travis Scott and NAV but also really, really like Sweet Home Alabama and Wagon Wheel and I could never not like The Doors because of my high school obsession and I also really like stuff on Soundcloud that sounds like you should be laying on a beach and just having a fun time and not caring about important world issues but I also just want to listen to one song on repeat for six years; I cut my hair, then regretted it, then didn’t, wore makeup every day and didn’t shower or the opposite. I was doing a million different things everyday. But that’s just who I am right now, and it shouldn’t confuse people, because we are all contradictory and complex. We are more than just dual, like my gemini sun sign says we are, we are multitudes, we are everything. I’m tired of feeling like I have to subscribe to one shell of a person just to fill this abstract idea of being liked. Because no one really likes me, and I don’t really like anyone. Why should I pretend?
This realization, while comforting, is also scary. It just reinforces the idea that I will never want to be in a relationship which is annoying because all my friends are in one or want to be one or are always talking to a guy. I don’t remember the last time I talked to a guy other than my dad. To be honest, I don’t care. I can say that with complete confidence. The only time I want a relationship is when I’m bored out of my mind and no one will hang out with me. When I’m at a concert, or singing by myself in the car on the way to work, or making a really fucking good sandwich, or talking about stuff I love, there is no lingering “I want a boyfriend” voice in my head. If there is in yours, I’m glad, because you’re listening to your wants and needs and I hope you find a boyfriend or girlfriend or someone in the near future that makes you happy. I remember when I really liked someone in high school and heard that voice when I was just living my life and I listened to it. But recently I’ve been making up these voices in my head that just don’t need to be there and I need to stop it, it just makes me drive myself crazy for absolutely no reason.
I want people to know that I am hard to grasp. I want myself to know I am hard to grasp. I change every day, all the time. And I hate that, I really do. I wish I had as concrete of an idea of who I am as I did others. But I think it would do me well to remember that nobody is just somebody, everybody is everyone. Everyone does dumb shit all the time, myself included. I will never be perfect and I will never please everyone and I will never be able to PR for myself or control my image. I think Instagram gives people the idea that we can do that, and maybe if you’re very constant and boring (which is a good thing, we need to destigmatize boring, I want to know what that’s like) it’s easy to get a cohesive idea of what people should think about you, but most people can’t. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to embrace the fact that you are imageless. No one can bottle you up and distribute you to others. Not able to be described; the ingredients change and may vary. The salad bar of life. You pay with cash and card and sometimes throw out pennies and your hands are sweaty and feet are cold, but your stomach is quite warm. Nothing is black and white! We have gray, but we also have apricot, and aquamarine, and pink. Because fuck the spectrum it does not exist. Remember that the color wheel was invented for a reason. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE, if you feel that inside of your soul.
What I want myself and hopefully whoever reads this to take from life today is to forgive other people for being complicated. Imagine if everyone wasn’t complicated; yes, life would be so much easier, but everyone would be predictable. And while it’s nice to value consistency, consistency does NOT equal predictability. And adopting this idea will be hard, because where do we draw the line between people just being complicated and them treating you badly? It’s one of the things I think I will try to learn throughout my life, but will never fully understand. I think it’s something we can’t change but can learn to deal with.
With that, I am going to leave Cilantro in Guilford with my peach iced tea and go home to make avocado toast even though I just ate Doritos yesterday, and on the way there I am going to listen to country music, and I just emailed some girl from South Carolina about believing in God, and then I’m going to go to my high school job where everyone drinks Monster and smokes weed in the parking lot during breaks while I drink kombucha and eat a nectarine. Yeah I’m a ~contradiction~ people what are you gonna DO about it. I’m laughing at myself right now. Which is good. I’m going to start letting myself be known. Not just the good parts of me, but the bad parts too. And especially the things that don’t make sense. Because they don’t have to make sense! People don’t make sense. (That’s why I hate science sometimes because when it comes down to it everything is made of dust and I don’t know how we got feelings or fireworks or lemonade or stickers from dust) Have a great day everyone.