on my relationship to friendship
Sometimes I feel alone in the way I think about friendships, and my relationships to my friends. I know I'm not, but sometimes it feels this way.
Maybe it's a sense of high expectations for how I wish friends would show up for me, as I hope I show up for them. The feelings sometimes that I put a lot of effort into friendships, and it's not always reciprocated. But, I also think it's just how one orients themselves in the world of interpersonal connections. I was chatting to a close friend the other day, and we were talking about how our family structure and how our parents modelled friendships really influenced how we approach it now. For them, their parents didn't have friends that they knew of (mostly due to geographic changes) and their immediate family was the focus. As a result, the priorities in life now: family, self, friends. For me, I grew up in a Korean Christian household and community—my parents were in church groups with parents similar to their age, and had kids similar in age to me and my brother. There were regular gatherings and parties, where the parents would have fun, and separately all the kids would have fun, fending for themselves. My mom was also always on the phone spending countless hours with her friends, gossiping and chatting, tying up the phone line preventing me from using the internet. My immediate family included my grandparents, but I was mostly a latchkey kid whose formative childhood years were spent growing up in a cul-de-sac with other similarly-aged children—we'd spend hours after school playing in the street, or going to each others' backyards. And, I feel that as a Korean Canadian growing up in a predominantly White suburb, I was always wanting to fit in amidst my peers at school. I love my family, and value them for their support and juggle our complicated relationships, but I think I've always struggled with being seen for me as an individual and my place in society outside of the family structure. I would say my priorities: self, friends, family (where self and friends are neck and neck). Maybe this means I take my family for granted. Maybe I just feel the importance of community, and the choice of who we let into our lives. Maybe I put myself first because sometimes I don't feel like I'm first for others.
I think this has been coming up a lot lately, as we've been finding ways to live our lives again in a world dealing with the pandemic. I know I'm not alone in thinking that the last two years have been taken away from me, and a lot of my plans and approaches to things. While I've gained a lot in terms of clarity and insight in how I am, and who I want to be, I've also lost a lot of time. Two years is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, but as I approach 35 this year, I keep forgetting then quickly remembering what that actually means for me. I've lost two years of my early-30s of trying to meet new people because I couldn't (nor did I have the capacity to try "new" ways). I've lost two years of the deep connection or even the fleeting and superficial connections with new and old friends. Well, just not in the same way as before. It has felt like maintenance, and just ... holding steady as much as we could. And, the losses of friends that we realized were either not a fit, or we'd gone separate ways, or just moved on with other folks as a priority. And, that's okay! It's just simultaneously ... sad.
I have friends who are becoming new parents soon, and I'm so excited for them. This next step in their life will really be a new chapter in their life. But, there is also that feeling of being left behind, as relationships are understandably bound to change. I know this, and to be frank, welcome this! Who are we but folks that change and grow and learn to hold all these things at once. I think I just wish to be allowed to be involved in ways to show my love, of family outside of blood, and the support that can mean if space is made for that. One good friend recently shared the news that they and their partner are expecting a baby this year. And, they wanted to acknowledge that they won't be able to show up for me in the same way as before. I think was taken aback at first at this bluntness, because of course! I am not unawares of that. I have experienced it. But, also, the resulting conversation really had us both in tears of both gratitude and loss of what this would mean for the both of us, and how scary it can be to have that change be so presently impending. Gratitude for our relationship and clearly an evolving Big Friendship, and how we've shown up for each other over the years. And then having this big next stage on the horizon, and worrying about everything and what it could mean. I do think society has done a disservice to both friendship and parenthood, and how family is defined. Not only to those who have "unhealthy/troubled/distant" blood family relationships who had to find a chosen family. I think family is a support network of community that includes friendships, and yes, can be different levels of closeness. I just really think it's how we show up for others, how it's reciprocated, and how we can show up as ourselves that really lets these bonds last. We'll see, though. I'm still only thirty-four.
My long weekend plans got derailed even before it started on Saturday. I'm not too bummed, though. There was a storm in Ontario yesterday that was wild. Like, sheets of rain and winds that were totally horizontal. Chaos, havoc, left in its wake (unfortunately some deaths, too). My power was out yesterday for 16 hours. My brother had been planning this dinner party, and all the prep for it had to be adjusted and cooked on camping burners. So, I just ended up reading all day and night? And, it was exactly what was needed. There's always something super lovely about curling up with a book, and letting time pass you by. As a result of the storm: I'll have two reviews sent out in one email on Wednesday, because I had too much going on today.
My Liberation Notes – Kdrama (Netflix)
Conversations with Friends (Prime Video Canada)
My Next Guest with David Letterman – Season 4 (Netflix)
Grace & Frankie – Season 7, Final Episodes (Netflix)
The Kardashians – Season 1 (Disney+)
Articles & more
How Many Friends Do You Really Need?, Catherine Pearson (NY Times)
How to Be a Better Friend, Tara Parker-Hope (NY Times)
Back to Life, Back to Reality: How to Stop Overscheduling Yourself, Malcolm Venable (Shondaland)