Issues: Everybody’s got ’em

I like being a sociable person. I like talking with my friends. I like having food with my friends. I like studying with my friends.

But I don’t like to involve others in my problems. I like to be along in my times of weakness.

I had dinner with a friends who talked to me about that very issue. We had been in and out of contact for a while, so it was nice to finally see her. After dinner, we were talking about the stresses of life after school, especially pertaining to her status as an international student. Without going into much detail, she admitted the reason she hadn’t seen many of her friends was because she was stressed about being able to work in the US as a citizen and that getting citizenship would be difficult. Her thesis was that in her times of weakness, stress, or difficulty, she tends to shut out people and try to deal with her problems by herself.

I see that in myself a lot. I don’t like to talk about issues. Sure, they exist, and I’m sure others around me know they exist, but I hate talking about them. I’m not even sure why I do. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to see like someone with “issues.” Perhaps it’s because I want to come off as responsible, as someone who has stuff under control. I have problems admitting to little problems; having bad habits such as procrastination, excessive expenditure of personal funds, and even inheren, out of my control things like learning disabilities. I don’t know why, but I don’t like to talk about or seek help from outside sources about these things.

I also realized that I haven’t been taking advantage of the wisdom of some of my friends. When I was talking to my friend tonight, I couldn’t help but remember another friend express regret about using my friends more in a professional role. I was thinking the same thing with the exception of not taking advantage of her wisdom. She’s been through a lot, confronted the same types of problems that the rest of us humans confront, and is extremely intelligent to top it off. I’m glad she shared some of that with me tonight, because it seems like a confrontation with my isolationist perspective on personal issues was long overdue.

Just on a final note, I hope things go well for her in the future. And I hope after tonight I’ll be more willing to be open with my friends.

We’ll never get that day back

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with some of my friends from last year. Everyone I’ve had the opportunity to speak with again has had no problem picking up where we left off. They’re an amazing group. There is no complaints about how we haven’t been seeing each other; there’s only a mutual understanding that we live busy lives and a desire to reconnect whenever we have the opportunity.

I wish I could have been this understanding with my friends a few years ago. I used to be the friend that got upset when people wouldn’t speak to me on a regular basis. I burned many bridges because of my inability to understand that my friends and I have separate lives outside of each other.

Many of those people were friends I had back in high school. When it was time for us to make the transition to college, I automatically, and foolishly, assumed that we could all maintain the same level of friendship that we were accustomed to. This was perhaps compounded by the fact that I was taking a break between HS and College. It seems obvious now that we couldn’t keep what we had before; our environments, our expectations, our experiences were rapidly changing. What’s more, we were experiencing those changes independent from each other.

I got what was perhaps the most explicit reality check when I came home from college my freshman year. I had a group of friends, through my church, that I had made while taking a year off of school. They all went to college in town so it was easy to visit all of them. Visiting them made me realize that we would never get back those old experiences that we thought we would. Late night runs to the convenience store, lighting off firecrackers in the middle of the night a mile outside the city, pulling pranks on old co-workers, late night jam sessions… those things were affected by externalities that didn’t exist only three months before. People got married, engaged, had kids, spent more time with family, had different circles of friends.

That experience taught me to cherish the moments we have with our friends because we never get those moments back.

So when my friend, who I haven’t seen in a while, asked me to go to the bar with her in order to relive some of the good times we had, I was completely comfortable. I knew that we both knew (confusing, I know) that we were not going to have the same experience that we had before as much as we desired. What makes me comfortable with doing that is I feel we’ll both strive to take something new out of that night.

I don’t think I could have done that a few years ago.