Tuesday, July 10, 2012

maybe it's me?

Those of you who know me well, know that I am an extrovert to the extreme. I LOVE being around people. I draw my energy from them. I really don't like being by myself for very long periods of time (I think way too much when I am alone, and that is NEVER good). This allows me to flit pretty naturally between a whole bunch of social groups. I am comfortable talking to anyone and everyone. Left alone long enough, I could make friends with non living things, even the wall.
Another thing about me is that I love to help people and feel useful (read: people pleaser extraordinaire). This is usually a good thing, but can lead me to overcommitting myself and not really spending quality time with those whom I really care about because I want to help everyone and I want to be liked by everyone. On any given day, I can have 12-15 metaphoric plates spinning, and in my efforts not to drop any of them, maybe I pay them all the minimal amount of attention to keep  them spinning, without recognizing the masterpieces present in each individual one.
When I get really stressed by all of these committments, I tend to focus too much on my to-do list, checking things off my list and friendships can sometimes get pushed to the back burner, which is tragic and detrimental.
There is this crazy vicious cycle that always ensues. The friend finds someone else to call their best friend. They start hanging out with that person or group more and more, and with me less and less. Then my feelings get hurt and I start to feel really bad that I've lost the friend (always completely unintentionally). Now don't get me wrong, I know I can still can count on that friend to be there for the big important stuff, or if I really need them, but it's the stuff of their daily lives that I miss; the things we used to share so readily. I take honest and uncomfortable responsibility for these changes in friendship. I'm not one to blame others, I think I blame myself too readily. But I can't help but think it's not the whole picture.

I think the most frustrating part is the part that is not in my control. Yes, I can control how much effort I invest in people. I also have control over the committments that I take on and I am working on being more assertive at saying no to things. But so much of friendship is dependent upon proximity and shared experience and I can't control those things. Naturally, you are going to get very close to the members of your teaching team because you share kids and a hall way. If you share a space with someone, you're probably going to tell them more about yourself due simply to the fact that they are right there. If you have significant experiences in your life, you are going to seek out those people who have had similar experiences because you feel like they really get you (i.e. getting married, having kids around the same age, or a troubled younger brother).
While lack of quality time is certainly a contributing factor to the decline of some of my most treasured friendships and something I can change; I can't change the fact that friends at my school view me as "one of them" (them being admin) instead of "one of us" since I took the position of reading specialist at my school. I can't change that many of my friends have gotten married or now have kids, things I don't share.