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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

I generally only like to share my plans and personal life with close friends and family on my Facebook page so I try to maintain a smaller, more “close knit” group of people on my friends list instead of adding every single person I’ve ever met. I used to have more Facebook friends but I found that I would make a number of “groups” so only some people could see my pictures or my status or my info. It became very complicated and tedious so I decided instead to delete anyone that couldn’t have full access to everything I post. 

The “unfriending” process became very difficult to do though as this whole social networking business (and the inclusion/exclusion it brings) can be very sticky territory to maneuver through. I really wish it didn’t have to be this way, but in our ego-dominated world, it is. The more “friends” a person has, the “cooler” they are. To get a new friend request means you are sought after but to be “unfriended” means you are a pathetic loser (not my opinion, btw, just what I perceive the general attitude to be). I, of course, do not want to make anyone feel like a pathetic, unworthy friend nor do I want to have the awkward encounter where I may bump into someone I have deleted (and you know they know that you deleted them) but I don’t want to continue pretending that we are friends if we aren’t. 

I felt pretty safe deleting approximately 80 people off my friends list (people I really had no desire to talk to) but then I was left with all these “I’d like to delete you but…” You know those people, the ones you really don’t talk to but feel you just have to keep because it would be frowned upon or awkward if you didn’t. Those friends of the family, or friends-of-friends you may run into at a mutual friend’s party. Those extended family members that you don’t ever see or those co-workers that requested your friendship and you didn’t want to be rude by saying no. And of course, how can we forget those old friends from school that you really do like but just don’t talk to anymore. 

I took a good hard look at my remaining friends and these are the discouraging statistics. 

Out of the 71 friends that remained, I would only consider 11 of them to be close friends or family that I actually do talk to on a regular basis and enjoy sharing pictures, status updates and info with. 

There are 11 other people I would consider close acquaintances. The type of the people you keep in touch with occasionally and you’d like to maintain a friendship with but at this moment, you just aren’t that close.

The remaining 49 people fall into that “I’d like to delete you but…” category. Those people I really have no desire to keep on my friends list but I feel I can’t delete them because it will look bad. What if I run into them? What if they talk to our mutual friend about being unfriended? What will the rest of the family think if I deleted my second cousin? What if my co-worker confronts me? (And more selfishly) what if I need to get in touch with them for something in the future?

After writing the above questions I now realize that my main aversion to deleting these individuals is not the fact that I may hurt their feelings (although I do care about that) but it’s more about my own fear of confrontation. About having someone think badly of me. More or less, me not wanting to feel like a dirtbag.

How the heck do I get over that? Just delete them anyways and feel like a jerk? Or keep them on my list knowing in my heart that I’m not being authentic? Which is worse? Maybe I should just delete my whole account, that way no one is personally targeted…but then I lose my connection to those 22 close friends and acquaintances. Should I put the blame on others, after all, if they were more mature they’d understand why I deleted them…right? Or do I reach out and try to connect with these people in hopes of one day becoming good friends with them? But what if I don’t want to be friends? 

Do I just shut the hell up about it all because really, who cares? 

Oh the drama of it all… (Yes, I realize I am probably making a mountain out of a molehill here but to me, this does matter) 

After much thought, I’ve decided to take a two-pronged approach. 

First, I’m going be true to myself, “man-up” and delete those people who I really have no desire to be friends with. I may hurt some feelings and I may end up getting confronted but I need to stay authentic and do what I believe is right for me. 

Secondly, those “friends” that aren’t quite friends yet, I’m going to reach out to. Maybe that second-cousin of mine is a really interesting person, or maybe that old school friend of mine wants to get better acquainted but is too shy or afraid to initiate conversation. And if that fails, and I get no positive feedback from these individuals, that delete button is only one click away.

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As part of my March Happiness Project to build friendships I had joined a book club for women ages 25-40. I stated in my posts that I really wanted to meet new friends my own age, more specifically, women my age. I have always had incredible friendships with men but I have felt this need to balance things out with a few close female friends. I thought I really wanted a good girlfriend to laugh with, do girly things with and have that deep girlfriend bond that I idolize in all the movies and tv shows I watch. 

Last night was the first book club meeting I was available to attend and I absolutely did not want to go. Not only was my body showing signs of nervousness and fear but I also felt a little angry. Now that the day had arrived, I was mad that I was committed to going. You must understand that the fear and anxiety is normal for me; I don’t like going to new places I’ve never been before, especially when it’s downtown (parallel parking – eek!) and it’s to meet new people. The anger, however, was definitely something I’ve never felt before. If it was simply the fear holding me back, I would have forced myself to go, knowing that I probably would have had a great time but instead I bailed. I gave into my fears and stayed home. 

After feeling bad about myself for giving into my fears, I started to wonder if there was more to it. Surely if it was just nerves I could have gotten over it but this anger towards this meetup was really weird. Why was I so angry for committing to this? I wanted to make new friends, didn’t I? 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was angry at these women – these strangers I had never met. All my old preconceived notions about women my age came back to me. They are mean and catty and manipulative, right? Ever since the sixth grade, I have been picked on, ostracized, ignored, bullied and generally treated badly by girls. Even now, at age 28, I still have major issues with girls and their cattiness. In my experience, girls are generally not supportive and encouraging of your successes, if anything, they want to see you fail so that they can feel better about themselves and that is definitely not the kind of friendship I want. Every time I reach out to another female, I am stabbed in the back, treated poorly or thrown away like yesterdays garbage. I know that not all girls will be like this but I’ve gotten to the point, from my experiences, that I am jaded and distrustful. Frankly, I have been programmed to believe this about other girls, even if they are sweet and sincere. And this book club, with 17 women my age, scared the crap out of me! 

So why did I think I wanted to have girlfriends? Why did I join this group in the first place? Introduce preconceived notion #2 – I should have girlfriends. Some part of me thinks that it’s the right thing to do. It’s just not customary or “normal” to have all male friends. It doesn’t help that this point of view is supported by others in my life (my husband, my mom etc) plus the media certainly portrays “hanging with your girlfriends” as the ideal lifestyle. But is this belief correct? Do I really need girlfriends?  

Honestly, I don’t think I do. I believe this deep impulse to have that connection with girls my age has nothing to do with needing a friendship. I have a lot of great friends, even if they are male. I don’t miss out on any “girly” things either; my mom is eager to do a lot of crazy things with me and my best friend is more than happy to go with me to see a musical, go shopping or do any other girl-related things I’d want to do. The connection I have with my friends is also amazing; I’m definitely not missing anything there. I can talk about whatever is on my mind, even if it is girl-related, and my friends are there to listen, offer advice or just offer a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. So no, I do not think I really need a girlfriend at all. I’m doing just fine with the male friends I have.

So where do I go from here? First of all, I need to just let go of all the current beliefs and fears I have and just go with the flow. I cannot let the past dictate my future nor can I hunt for something that I really don’t necessarily need. I can’t restrict myself to male-only friendships in hopes of staying safe and comfortable but I also can’t go out there specifically pursuing only female friendships either. I need to just take it one day at a time, involve myself in the activities that I enjoy and see where life takes me.

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This morning, while lost in thought cutting veggies for my lunch, it hit me that all of my closet friends are totally unique individuals that don’t follow any typical trends. I’ve always noticed their ‘black sheep’ personas but it never occurred to me that all of my dearest friends are that way. They are the kind of friends that will openly admit they love Godzilla and will wear a dragon t-shirt out to the bar. They are the sort of friends that will come by for dinner and bring with them a super sized Slurpee just because they felt like it. They cut their own hair, eat Cool Mints for lunch, wear track pants to mow the lawn, bake birthday cakes for no particular reason, or get a mohawk just for the fun of it. They are truly living their lives authentically and they don’t give a damn about what anyone else thinks. 

In my eyes, this is extremely admirable. To be able to live your life in your own way, without following the latest style or doing what is “right” is just plain awesome! I’m so proud to be able to call these exceptional individuals my friends. 

So to all my unusual friends out there I say rock on! Go on being the unique person that you are! Continue to root for King Kong and take your girly bubble baths, carry on washing your hair with dish soap and wearing your too-tight Bayside High School t-shirt because I think you are all super-duper cool! 🙂

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Today is the last day of the third month of my Happiness Project for 2011.

To recap, I chose to focus on Friendships. My resolutions for the month were to:

  • Show up
  • Make time for someone important every day
  • Express appreciation
  • Stay in touch
  • Celebrate birthdays
  • Listen, engage, stop talking!
  • Join 2 social groups
  • Enroll myself in a class
  • Make 1 new friend
  • Act friendly

Strengthen Friendships:

Show up

I can proudly say that my calendar has been very packed this month with new adventures and plans with old friends. I haven’t backed out of anything that I have agreed to and I tried my best to show up to as many things as I could. I must also admit that although I was hesitant to leave the comfort of my home, I did in fact have a lot of fun getting out of the house and will continue to “show up” in the upcoming months.

A side bonus I received from this resolution is a new appreciation for the nights that I do stay home. I was really taking those lazy nights for granted because they happened night after night. Now, when I do have a free night, I don’t waste it away playing on the computer; I fully embrace the free time and have spent those nights hanging with my man or catching up on all the books I’ve been meaning to read.

Make Time for Someone Important Every Day

I’m pretty sure I have done this most days. I haven’t consciously made the choice to go out and find someone to talk to every day or anything but if someone has stopped by to chat, I have tried my best to stop whatever else I’m doing and give that person my full attention when possible.

Express Appreciation

As I mentioned in my Happiness Project update, I had a hard time with this one. I expressed my appreciation to a few of my friends but I found it very difficult and awkward to express my feelings freely. I do feel this is a very important thing to do though so I will continue to force myself out of my comfort zone and say what’s on my mind.

Stay In Touch

My main problem to resolve this month was my tardy response to friend’s emails and Facebook messages. For the most part, I did pretty well with this. Of course there were some days when I truly was too busy to email someone back while I was at work but I really did try to respond as soon as I could.

From an initiator stand point though, this resolution didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. Two key components of my Happiness Project are to increase the good feelings in my life and to decrease any bad feelings. Unfortunately, on a number of occasions, reaching out to others and trying to connect only increased the negative feelings. I’ve come to realize that I’m not the only one that has difficulty responding to messages. During this month, I have reach out to a few different friends and have received no response in return. So instead of reconnecting and boosting my good feelings, I just feel rejected and disappointed.

Celebrate Birthdays

I have successfully compiled one grand list of all my good friends, family and favourite co-workers birthdays. I have also purchased a ton of birthday cards and have slowly been handing them out as the birthdays pop up. There haven’t been many birthdays during this month though so I’ll have to wait for the upcoming months to really celebrate.

Listen, Engage, Stop Talking!

Epic fail. This is just something I cannot seem to get through my head. Don’t get me wrong, I do listen when other people talk but I am also eagerly waiting for a break in the conversation so that I can speak up with my latest news, opinion or advice. Although I am going to continue working on this, because I really would like to become a better listener, I think I am going to have to surrender to the fact that I enjoy talking. I can only cross my fingers and hope that my friends don’t mind and that maybe some of them are even friends with me because I talk so much.

Build Friendships:

Join 2 Social Groups

I’m happy to report that I have joined 2 groups I found on meetup.com!

The first is a social group for positive people who meet up once a month to hang out and discuss awesome, happy things.  I have attended one meeting so far and had a blast! Although I was the youngest person there, and probably won’t make any solid girlfriends-for-life connections, I still met a lot of great people and had a lot of fun.

The second group is a book club for women aged 25-40. I haven’t attended a meeting yet but I think this will be a great group for me. Not only do I love to read, and am very excited to have new book suggestions, but I also think that there is real hope for some great friendships to come out of this group.

Enroll Myself in a Class

Thanks to a recommendation from a wonderful woman I met at the first social group meeting I attended, I was able to enroll in a fantastic painting class. I had a ton of fun at my first class and can’t wait for the next! I also attended a meditation class which was…unique. I don’t think I will become a regular there but I may drop by once a month for their group potluck and meditation session. 

Make 1 New Friend

I have met a lot of people over these last few weeks but I wouldn’t say I’ve made any solid friendships yet. I believe friendships take time, and exposure, so I will have to see where all these groups and classes lead me. However, the main purpose of this goal was to get me to put forth a little effort and I do believe I have done that. 

Act Friendly

I have definitely been very friendly and have actively opened myself up to others this month and have felt great doing it. I’m really not sure why I was always so shy in the past but I’m going to continue to speak up, smile at new friends and engage others in conversation.

This month was an interesting month for me. My biggest accomplishment was taking all the steps I took in building new friendships. I am very proud that I put myself out there and conquered some of my fears. I must now admit defeat and give the glory to Gretchen Rubin. I did not believe that introverted people become happier by being around other people, but after this month, I have to agree with Gretchen on this one.

This month also put a lot of my current friendships into perspective for me. There are a lot of people in my life that I took for granted and really didn’t realize just how awesome they are. On the other hand, I also realized that there are a lot of people who I no longer connect with. I tried to pursue a better friendship with them, or I had convinced myself that the relationship was better than it was, but the truth is, I was fooling myself. People grow apart and friendships fade but that’s ok. I’m just happy that I did this project and figured out which ones are worth keeping. 😀

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It’s now half way through my friendship month so I thought I would provide you with an update on how I’m doing. Look here if you need a little reminder of my goals for March.

Strengthen Friendships:

I have been doing ok with strengthening my friendships but not as good as I’d like.

I have been making a lot of plans with friends and I have actually been sticking to them too! I’m so busy now that I have actually had to turn down plans on more than one occasion only because I already had other plans scheduled for those days. The real ironic thing about this resolution though, is that I have had a couple of friends cancel plans on me…funny how the tables have been turned.

I feel I have been pretty good at making time for someone important each day as well as responding to messages/emails in a timely fashion but I have not been very good at expressing appreciation. Why is it so hard to show affection and appreciation to friends? It just feels so awkward sometimes. I know I’m incredibly grateful to have them in my life but I find it so difficult to actually open my mouth and say it. I will continue to work on this for the remainder of the month; perhaps with practice it will become easier.

I’ve been doing really well at compiling my birthday list and buying cards. I must have at least 12 cards already purchased for the next few months of birthdays. Now if only the birthdays would hurry up and get here so that I can actually do something special to celebrate them.

Listen, Engage, Stop Talking…hmmm, not so much. It’s more like talk, talk some more, take a breath and then talk again. I am really having a hard time with this one! A really hard time! I just have so much to say so I just continue to talk and talk. I don’t like holding things inside so if I have something to discuss, I have to open my mouth and spit it out. I have honestly tried to at least let the other person talk first but I still end up ruling most of the overall conversation in the end. I’m stumped on this one. Any suggestions on how to stop talking so darn much?

Build Friendships:

So far I have only signed up for one social group. I actually meet with this social group tonight for the first time. I am very, very nervous but a little excited too. Hopefully I don’t make a complete fool of myself. I am still trying to decide which other group to sign up for. There is a women’s friendship group that seems great but a lot of the activities they plan are things I can’t participate in (i.e.: a meet up to have dessert (I can’t eat sugar), a lunch meet up during the week (I work during the day)). The other group is a hiking group for beginners. It sounds like fun, and I love to hike, but I just don’t think I would make any solid female friendships through this group mostly because of the age group it is (and it’s co-ed). The female friendship group would probably provide more opportunity to meet other ladies in my age group with similar interests.

I really wanted to sign up for a hiking course through the local college but have discovered that the one in-class seminar that is needed prior to the hiking is only offered on a night I already have other plans. I have been desperately looking for a beginner painting classes too but have had no luck. I have decided to sign up for a meditation class instead. As far as I know, it is only a two-part class but I’m sure there will be opportunities for other classes in the future. I am also going to look into a couple of one-day classes through the local college.

I haven’t made any new friends yet as I haven’t really been in any situations where I could have, but maybe after the next two days, I can. I will be sure to act very friendly to all the new people I’m going to meet and hopefully, at the very least, I will have a couple of fun nights getting out of the house.

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March – Build and Strengthen Friendships

“If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone.  A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.” – Samuel Johnson

There are many relationships in my life I’d like to do better in – my marriage, my family, my friendships, with my colleagues, and with myself. March is the time to focus specifically on my friendships in hopes of improving my current relationships as well as creating a few new ones. This month I will reconnect with my wonderful existing friends as well as participate in a little friend-finding on the side.

The resolutions to focus on this month:

  • Show up
  • Make time for someone important every day
  • Express appreciation
  • Stay in touch
  • Celebrate birthdays
  • Listen, engage, stop talking!
  • Join 2 social groups
  • Enroll myself in a class
  • Make 1 new friend
  • Act friendly

Since I spent the first two months of my happiness project focusing on myself, I think it’s time I broaden my goals a little and focus on those around me. I am an introvert by nature but Gretchen is adamant that even the most introverted become happier by being around other people. I would love to argue this point and insist that I am much happier by myself, reading a book, than I could ever be in a group situation but instead I will put this suggestion into action and try it out for myself.

I have broken down my resolutions into two categories – Strengthen Friendships and Build Friendships.

Strengthen Friendships:

Show up

Since I am one of the most non-committal people I know and I hardly ever make plans or agree to go to any upcoming events/activities, I am resolving to just show up. It seems like a pretty easy thing to say but I’m sure it will prove to be quite difficult to stick to. Usually if I do make plans, even if I am the initiator of those plans, I tend to back out or at least feel reluctant to go once the day actually arrives. I really don’t know why I’m like this but I think I should try to change it, at least for this month, and see if it makes me any happier. From now on, when I’m invited out to a party, a movie or even a simple “play date”, I will just go with it. I will not allow myself to say “no”, make excuses or cancel plans. Besides, the simple “exposure factor” of seeing people repeatedly usually makes them like you more, so here’s hoping for some stronger friendships!

Make Time for Someone Important Every Day

By this I mean good quality, undivided attention time. I am a huge multi-tasker so when I am on the phone with someone or even if my best friend is sitting here beside me, I will often type emails, check my facebook or just fiddle with mail, paperwork, flyers etc. I know how pissed off I get if someone doesn’t give me their full attention so there is really no reason why I should be allowed to be such a jerk too! I may not always have the time to give every single person my complete attention each day but I should be able to at least give my time to one important person every day.

Express Appreciation

I’m sure we all love our friends and are thankful that we have them but we don’t often express just how much we really do appreciate them. This month I am going to express my appreciation more; whether it’s a thank you card, a small gift, a kind gesture or simply a “thanks for being my friend!”

Stay In Touch

I am terrible at staying in touch. Just terrible. I’m often forgetful, busy or just plain lazy. I will get emails from friends but will be too busy to respond or when I have a couple free minutes, I’ll check my facebook, read a message, intend to write back later when I have more time and then I will completely forget. I need to start making this a priority in my life. I need to respond immediately when I get a message, but maybe even more important than that, I need to start sending messages myself. I certainly don’t want to lose touch with many of my friends but if the effort isn’t made, that is inevitably what will happen.

Celebrate Birthdays

I bet we all love getting cards, emails and best wishes sent our way on our birthdays but how often do we completely forget to send love to other people on their birthday? I make it a habit already to keep track of many of my friends and even co-workers birthdays and will try to send a little email on their special day but I know my birthday list isn’t complete. This month I am going to track down ALL my friends, family and co-workers birthdays and compile them all into my handy-dandy birthday calendar.

Along with remembering people’s birthdays, I am also going to make a bigger effort at celebrating them. An email is fine for those not-so intimate acquaintances but for my close friends and family, that’s just not enough. At the very least they deserve a thoughtful card, and if time and funds allow it, a little gift too.

Listen, Engage, Stop Talking!

I’m a natural talker. I don’t shut up. I like to have my say and give out heaps of advice and suggestions. That can come in handy when having a conversation with a very shy individual but it’s not very pleasant when trying to have discussions with other equally talkative people. I am going to try (and this will be hard) to stop talking so much, actively listen to the other person and engage them in conversation. There will be no more one-upping; I am going to try my best to let them have all the glory and see if my relationships improve as a result.

Build Friendships:

Join 2 Social Groups

There is a fabulous website called www.meetup.com. It lists numerous different social groups in your city. I am going to get over my fear of meeting new people and I am going to go ahead and join two groups. There is a wonderful diversity of groups on there ranging from book clubs to hiking adventures to coffee and pot luck nights so I will have no problem finding at least two that I like. Most groups meet on a monthly basis. I’d really like to get out of the house and meet some new people but I don’t have a lot of free time either so a monthly meet up is perfect for me.

Enroll Myself in a Class

Along with the groups, I am also going to join some sort of class. I’m not sure what exactly yet but I’m going to join something! I’d love to do a beginner painting class but they are hard to come by. The local college also offers a 6 week hiking class that I may sign up for.

Make 1 New Friend

I know this sounds completely lame, who makes a resolution to make a new friend? But I tend to shy away from new people and don’t make the effort to pursue a deeper friendship for fear of being shot down. By making this a goal, I am hoping I will be more likely to come out of my shell and put forth a little effort.

Act Friendly

Because I am generally quiet and shy, I often don’t come across as the friendliest person to new acquaintances. I am going to do my best to open up, share a smile, act friendly and engage others in conversation.

I am quite excited for this month and I hope you are too! 🙂

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