I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately, and how I really suck at it.
To give you some history on my life, I was born in San Diego, California. I left there at 4 and began school at the age of 5 in Orlando, Florida in 1998. Following that timeline, everything I learned about friendship and communication as a kid happened in a world with very little social media. MySpace came around in the early 2000s, but it didn’t matter because me and all of my friends were too young to use it.
Now, I was a shy kid. And one thing to note us by us shy children is that we really grasp on to those who begin talking to us. It may not mean much to them, but it means a lot to us because we know that no one is obligated to talk to us, or make us feel welcome.
SO I started kindergarten at Riverdale Elementary School where I made some friends, but I don’t even remember who they are. By first grade I was going to a school called Cypress Springs Elementary. I made some good friends there as well, and we got to spend a good 4 years together before I moved away right before 5th grade started. Those people were awesome. I even had a girlfriend for about a week….Good times.
Then I went to three different schools in 5th grade alone; Pinecrest Elementary (ew), a school at a boys home that my parents were working at called Green Isle Children’s Ranch, and then Riverside Elementary. Every friend that I bonded with, I ended up leaving them behind. Keep in mind that I was too young for MySpace and on top of that, very few kids had cell phones. So to stay in touch, I would need to write everyone’s home numbers down and then hope my parents would let me use the home phone to call them. But that wasn’t much of an option because I lived with quite a bit of extended family, and the adults needed the phone more than the kids. I’m not complaining, just explaining….but more friends were lost.
That led into 3 different middle schools, one for each grade (6,7,and 8). I met some great people in the 6th grade at Glenridge Middle School. The same grade that my mother FORCED me into band. But that actually turned out to be a good thing so I’m not mad about it anymore. At that school I was the token boy in a group full of girls. Some thought I was dating this one girl because we hung out a lot, but we weren’t. We were just really good friends….. Anyways, by this point, I knew it was a matter of time before we would part ways so I made sure they all knew that I was going to be moving soon. And I was right. I left Glenridge partly after school started in the 7th grade.
At that point I gave up on trying to make friends. I was tired of losing touch with everyone I’ve ever met, so I started to wear black everyday and I stopped talking. This was at Liberty Middle School. But then something happened. At the end of 7th grade in the last band class this girl named Teresa started talking to me. And she wouldn’t stop. So I ended up chatting with her, and then a guy named Carlos showed up and I talked to him too. A few minutes later we were playing catch with a bean bag or something.
The summer came and went, 8th grade started and it felt like no time passed. I was talking to Teresa and Carlos, and then some other folks. THEN WE MOVED AGAIN. Off to Odyssey Middle School for the 8th grade. I shut down again, but this time was worse than before. People tried to get me to have a conversation with them, but I would tell them that there was no point in trying. It became a game for me. A quiet game. How many people would try and fail to befriend me? Haha
9th Grade started and I was going to the Colonial High School 9th Grade Center, where 9th graders from Glendridge, Liberty, and Odyssey all came together. I ended up connecting with my band friends from Glenridge and Liberty again. That was when I opened up a bit to allow some of the Odyssey kids to go from associates to friends.
However, I knew to keep everyone at arms length. We were friends, but I knew the day was coming when all of that would be over. It happened two years later in the 11th grade when I moved out of Florida and into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the bright side, it was like 2010 and so me and all of my friends were old enough to have Facebook pages. I ended up staying connected with a small fraction of high school friends, so that move wasn’t too bad.
But in all of that time I was watching a lot of kids shows where the lead characters had at least one best friend to go through thick and thin with. And that made me feel very lonely because I never had that. All I had was family, which is great, but it would have been nice to feel like someone out there loves me by choice and not because “we’re family”.
During all of these childish friendships, I remember seeing that the others were closer with each other than they were with me. When I was old enough to have a cell phone I would text people and most of the time no one would text me back. Then I’d get to school the next day and hear about how the others were talking all the time.
It sucked, but I became okay with that fact a few years ago when I learned that no one can really make me happy. I would need to find that happiness for myself. Hooray for growth!
But then that brought up another set of problems when I met my roommate, Dave, back in 2016. Through meeting him I realized that I didn’t know how to be a friend. To be honest I was quite obsessive. We chatted a lot about WWE (professional wrestling) and sometimes about girls, a little about life, etc). It was great. But then one time I sent him a text and he didn’t reply for hours. I was convinced I said the wrong thing or maybe he got hurt, but in reality he was just busy…I was slapped with the fact that I needed to turn down the crazy.
So I did that (it wasn’t as simple as I make it sound, but I did it), and then I started to morph into the dependable guy. The responsible one that always has his stuff together and is able to help those who don’t. That caused me to be the one that people are constantly taking from, but are rarely giving back to. Meaning that you can come to me to vent about your life, but I can’t vent about my life to you.
So even now in 2018 I still struggle with learning how to let people in, mostly because none of the punks around me give me the chance to open up. Ha! But this is why I blog. I want people to get to know me and I would like to know my readers as well.
One last thing I learned about friendship over the years is that it’s okay to allow people to grow up and to meet others. Your friends will have other friends that they may talk to more, but it doesn’t always mean that you guys aren’t friends as well, or that you guys don’t love each other.
That is my take on friendship. What do you think about the topic? Please comment and let me know!