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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Friendship
Here's a thoughtful post about friendship.

I have some people that I value very deeply.  Unfortunately right now most of them live in other states or countries.  Most of the local contacts I currently have are casual.  I've had very close local relationships in the last decade but none of them have lasted.  

There's a very old tendency for me to blame myself, because it took a while for me to bother building social skills, and I still don't think mine are great.  But when I look objectively at the actions, I think the quality of people in my vicinity has rarely been great and is fairly low now.  They do shit worse than what I used to get nagged at for doing, only there's nobody nagging them.  There are awesome people in the world; they just seem to be rare and spread very widely.  That's frustrating.

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16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
lyonesse From: lyonesse Date: August 2nd, 2012 11:12 am (UTC) (Link)
with ya on most of these points; was inspired to make a few more in my own journal. thanks for the pointer :)
From: technoshaman Date: August 2nd, 2012 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel for you, not being in an area of awesomeness. Sometimes you really do need that _physical_ hug or shoulder or whathaveyou...

And even if one isn't into *contact*, simply being able to put a face to words on a screen, see body language, hear nuance of spoken words...

Let's put it this way: A NASA project I was on once bandied about doing a given very simple thing for nearly six months over email. Nothing happened. At the semi-annual sysadmins' conference? It was dealt with in five minutes.

I hope you can find some good folk, one way or the other. I know how valuable that is... and you've certainly earned it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> Sometimes you really do need that _physical_ hug or shoulder or whathaveyou... <<

What I'd like is to have a community of people to spend time with, do potluck suppers, swap stuff we can do to fill the gaps of what each person isn't good at, and hold occasional social and spiritual gatherings. I'd like to have people who are reasonably functional and available, who treat each other decently, and once they've said they'll do something will actually do it.
From: technoshaman Date: August 2nd, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

*nods* I haven't had an actual *spiritual* gathering group in a coon's age.... though my nature is such that musical gatherings suffice for both the spiritual and the social. I've been without any before... it's... lonely.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 3rd, 2012 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I must admit, I feel quite fortunate in having that, at least. You're always welcome to visit! :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2012 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I appreciate the thought. I'm glad you have a good community.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: August 3rd, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

I'm lucky to have an exceptional presbyterian congregation nearby
for that sort of thing.
Most of them are assholes, sure,
but on the whole, they're a decent lot, somehow...

But even with close friends,
I've had to accept that fact that my having a marginal mental illness
limits things...
Almost anyone who has anything to gain by spending time with me
has more to gain by spending it with someone else...

But, you know, the milk of a million cows
will yield more cream than the milk of a hundred cows.
That's what the internet is all about.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I've noticed that I made a lot more friends in College than before or since, but I think that was mostly just a function of the fact that I was exposed to a couple of orders of magnitude more people during those few years than in any other circumstances.<<

Some things I've realized, thinking about this now:

1) In college, the quality of people surrounding me was much higher. Yes, there were lazy idiots, but there were also plenty of smart dedicated people.

2) High-quality people tend to leave the area where I live. It doesn't have much to offer in the way of jobs or culture, just peace and quiet. There is a college, but it's a small one and connecting with that subsection has been tenuous and intermittent. And college students almost always leave.

3) In college, I was surrounded by people at or above my current level in many fields. Now, it's not rare for me to be better at fragments of something in my worst areas than people who are doing that professionally. The people at or above my level are rare and scattered widely. To find them, I have to go online or go to a large event.

4) Of course, my opportunities for interaction have dropped. I used to be out and about almost every day; now it's twice a week mostly for groceries. But even if I get to a recreational activity, I'm finding it harder to strike up conversations with people, because the chance of finding someone worth talking to is just so damn low; and even if I connect with someone, statistically speaking the likelihood is that it will end in disappointment.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2012 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>I've also noticed that I've become much better at doing the casual acquaintance thing since I started spreading my Errands out to make myself walk 5+ days each week and became a regular at a local coffeeshop.<<

Reasons for our lowered interaction include:

Neither of us have been employed for over 4 years, so no coworkers.

So we can't afford to go to conventions or most other events, and even local stuff is usually out unless it's free to get in.

Also we can't afford the gas to drive into town every day.

And the local coffeeshop that started out being quite a nice place for meetings eventually got pissy because we're Pagan and has spent several years contorting into all kinds of weirdness to make us go away.
laylalawlor From: laylalawlor Date: August 2nd, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
If I remember correctly where you live (you're in central Illinois, right?) my experiences were similar to yours -- my four years in Champaign, unlike any other period in my adult life, basically left me with no lasting relationships with any of the people I met there. (I do still have a couple of close friends from that time period that I'm in touch with, but not from Champaign -- I made some artist friends in Michigan and Indiana that I still try to see every couple of years if I can manage it.) I just didn't click with most of the people I met in Illinois. There were even people I really liked and think about every now and then, but we don't seem to have made the effort to take it that extra step and stay in touch.

For the most part, I have never had trouble making and keeping new friends, and that continues to be true in my mid-30s, but I also have fairly relaxed standards for friendship. I had a recent conversation with my sister in which she was feeling down about not having any friends in the town in which she lives, but once we started getting into her criteria for friendship (people she feels as close to as family, people she sees every day and does everything with), I realized that by her criteria, *I* don't have any close friends either. And yet, I am very satisfied and happy with the friendships I have, even though I don't see most of my friends more often than once or twice a year, and a couple of them I've never met in person at all. I'm certainly not saying that my sister is wrong to feel that way, because (obviously) she's not me, and her emotional needs aren't mine; I'm an introvert and I not only like spending most of my time alone, but I require a great deal of solitude to be happy. The kind of friendship that she's seeking is something that would be utterly smothering to me, and the couple of times that I've started to become friends with someone like that (who called me up at all hours and constantly wanted to do social activities with me) I've pulled back hard, whereas my sister feels too isolated and unhappy if someone doesn't do that. In my case, though, the people with whom I've formed lasting, intimate friendships are, by and large, fellow introverts like me, and we have warm feelings for each other and always enjoy each other's company even though we only see each other every once in a while and mainly keep in touch through email.

Because of the way I am mentally wired, online interaction has turned out to be a wonderful way for me to meet new people, and email/Livejournal is a perfect staying-in-touch tool for me. Most of the new friends I've made in the last few years (people I consider real, "tell them all my problems" friends, I mean, not just casual "Facebook friendship" types of relationships) have been through online social venues such as fanfic fandom. However, I know that not everyone is wired for this, and even for me, in-person interaction is sometimes the only thing that will suffice!

Anyway, I really hope you're able to find a community that meets your emotional needs. *hugs*

Edited at 2012-08-02 08:10 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2012 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>If I remember correctly where you live (you're in central Illinois, right?)<<

Yes.

>>The kind of friendship that she's seeking is something that would be utterly smothering to me<<

Well, it's vital to understand your own needs and tastes in friendship. Not everybody wants the same kind. I'm not interested in people who like to go out to bars or watch cars drive in circles ... which is most of the people around here. I'm not into most parties, graduations, weddings, or other typical social events. I do like Pagan sabbats and potluck suppers and an occasional movie. I find that gathering folks together for yardwork makes it more fun and it goes faster.

>> Because of the way I am mentally wired, online interaction has turned out to be a wonderful way for me to meet new people, and email/Livejournal is a perfect staying-in-touch tool for me. <<

I love online interaction, and many of my best friends are here. It's very good for conversation, discussion of ideas, sharing our creative work and goals, encouraging each other, and keeping touch with people's lives. But it's no use if we need a jumpstart for the car or somebody to watch our house while we're out of town. There's very little safety net in this society, my efforts to build a local community have not held together, and that makes me deeply uneasy.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 3rd, 2012 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
One day, once I've got enough money saved up and enough time to do it, I'm going to do a road trip across North America, visiting all the wonderful online friends I have (you'll be one of the stops along the way). But, yeah, distance can be such a pain. I'm just glad I've got a lot of good folk locally.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2012 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Such a trip would be awesome.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 3rd, 2012 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

It would be a long one, methinks; I've got a lot of friends dotted across the landscape, between people I've met online, including many AVENites, and IRL. Of course, I'd also have to stop at a number of places like Salem, Mass., and the Grand Canyon.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2012 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Going gypsy is fun. The summers of my junior high years, we went on long vacations out west, one month the first time and two months the second. Many of my best memories come from those trips, and we saw about the western 2/3 of the U.S.
msstacy13 From: msstacy13 Date: August 3rd, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

yeah, I was hoping to do a sort of world tour
after receiving the Nobel Prize,
but that hasn't worked out just yet...
:)
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