We are all told from a young age to dream big, but not too big. You want people to like you, but the gods frown upon those that incite jealousy in others.

Anyway, we are all conditioned from birth to be “friends”. "This is your new neighborhood. Be nice to little Johnny, you want to make friends.” Who the hell asked me? I do not want to be friends with this kid, let alone sit with him in school. The parents move the kids around. To San Diego, Northern California (which is its own state), places unfamiliar to us. We are expected not only to adapt, but to flourish. “Oh, but it’s good for you!!” Any kid who has ever sat alone at a lunch table knows in their heart of hearts that this is not only not good for them, but brands them forever the outsider.

Protective mechanisms come into play when you are plucked from your comfort zone and thrust into the unknown. The definitions solidify your status as a weirdo. Defensive, bookish, UNPOPULAR. In reality, as adults, these are traits more commonly referred to as not willing to take crap, smart, no need for the drooling adulation of others. Teachers were trained to identify these children and make them examples. Anyone who ever defied the order of Our Sisters of a Merciful and Possibly Non-existent God were doomed to a childhood of standing in the corner, made the modern day pariah. The good kids were afraid of these kids, but secretly wished they had the nerve to do whatever it took to get that teacher to lose her composure.

These kids grow-up to be adults who are incapable of being marginalized. You know what I mean. Unable to adhere to the rule that we all need to play nice. The happiness craze drives many people to the psychiatrist’s office, seeking relief from some unknown malady that eats away at their innards. It’s because they are not allowed to live an honest life. “Don’t raise your voice”. “Don’t confront injustice. It’s not ladylike.” “Don’t eat too much.” “Don’t drink.” “Don’t get pissed off – EVER.” “Don’t be honest with people. They can’t take it.”

There are certain people who do not care what others think of them. This is not good if you are of a hostile nature, but it can be refreshing in a society of sheep, where we are all groomed to read self-help books. If we need to be told “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, what does that say about us? The book “Who Moved My Cheese” is abhorrent. When a company tells its employees “go with these changes” and expects them to do it with a cheerful smile and enthusiastic gusto, they are not addressing the nature of human beings. Change is not good. Change sucks. Ask anyone who has had a new operating program installed at work.

It is not so much the fact that change does occur, and it is uncomfortable, it is the fact that no one addresses the discomfort. Wouldn’t it be better to tell people “this is going to be hard at first”, rather than make them feel bad about themselves because they aren’t supposed to have these feelings in the first place? Who Moved My Cheese would not exist if these feelings were not natural. To deny the existence of bad feelings by telling people there is something wrong with them is denying them an honest existence. Living lives of “quiet desperation”.

Friendship is one of those areas that falls into the category of dishonesty. What do you say to a friend who is in a bad relationship or is doing things that damage themselves? Nothing. And you know why? Because you can’t. You tip-toe around it, pretending everything is peachy. When it finally comes out, when you can no longer listen to them complain about how something is affecting their life and you tell them the truth, they no longer like you. What is it about that? This conditioning to pretend that all is well? Isn’t that what friends are for? Or are they merely props to make us feel good about ourselves? How many friends you have is not indicative of character. Everyone has amassed large groups of friends, only to look back and say “I wonder what ever happened to (insert name here)?” Ever looked at your wedding album or photo albums? It is a veritable graveyard of former friends, divorced couples, dead people.

Much of this all boils down to wanting to be liked. Humans are strange in this respect. Facebook, twitter, who is following me, who commented on my page? In the grand scheme of things, most “friends” are not even that. They are former acquaintances, old flames, people you would not seek out if the internet did not exist. No one talks on the phone anymore. Too much of a bother. Remember when the phone would ring and you would jump to get it? Not anymore. When the phone rings, most cringe, having been subjected to a barrage of calls at work and not having the energy to make small talk with their friends, because like I mentioned before, the big stuff, the looming problems, sit like an elephant in the room and cannot be talked about. Not with these people anyway, who are not your close, close friends, who you can talk about the big stuff with, but your daily acquaintances. Instead, they look at the caller I.D and say “oh, it’s just so-and-so. I can call them back later”. Which you don’t, and the days and weeks go by until you are embarrassed by your neglect.

Many have lost friends who became too honest with them. When they told you of the abusive spouse, the family problems, or the time one cheated. Because they don’t leave the spouse or fix the source of their problems. And you are a constant reminder of their inability to love themselves first. One day you wake up and say “I wonder why they haven’t called me in months?” And you feel bad, because this is a person who you invested a lot of time and energy in, listened to them rail on and on about their problems to the point of exhaustion, threw a lovely wedding shower for, did tons of favors for, whatever. Cast aside when you are no longer of any use.

Why we put the needs of others (not including your kids or your family) first in order to be liked is a phenomenon that can be all-encompassing. The overbooked weekend, when things you are supposed to be enjoying get checked off the list like never ending chores. Barbeque with the neighbors? Check. Dinner with the parents? Check. Taking the kids to the movies? Check. Check your voicemail. Check your e-mail. Check your Facebook. Check.

It is exhausting, being over-available to everyone. Sometimes you just need to check out. Don’t ever put others first in order to be liked, because the bottom line is, in a few years the person you are fretting over today is most likely going to be a blip on your radar. Not your good friends, the ones you have had for years, who you love like family. Hold them close. Be good to them. They will always be good to you. Just the ones who if you honestly ask yourself “could I call this person and would they drop everything and run to me?” and the answer is “no”, those are the ones who deserve less attention. Interestingly, one of the hardest words in the English language is “no”, but in order to maintain our sanity, I think it is a word we all need to use more. Accepting every invitation, over-scheduling, making too many plans only makes you resentful. Take time to be alone and learn to like yourself.

Love yourself first. Narcissus had it right, even if he paid a price.

Comments

CuddleFish July 9, 2010 @ 1:57 p.m.

Interesting thread topic!

It is so true that we human beings, and women especially, are conditioned to please, to make others happy, to put everyone ahead of our selves and our needs. I think that instinct can be good, after all, as a society, we need to compromise, to get along, to make nice, in order to keep order and avoid chaos.

But it is true that we are pressured to conform from a young age, that we are not encouraged to be assertive, to "get with the program" even when the program isn't what is best for us. Look at all the women who never report sexual abuse or sexual harassment, who don't leave abusive husbands.

I, too, have had friends cry on my shoulder about their problems, and then eventually they drift out of my life. Many years back, I decided to depend on myself and not worry or care about what others thought of me, within certain limitations. I have paid for my independence, but I have found the cost to be worth the freedom.

MsG, we live so much of our lives in fear of others' judgment. No wonder people go nuts.

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MsGrant July 9, 2010 @ 2:07 p.m.

Do you know that until about the middle of the last century, a man could have his wife committed to an insane asylum if she did not fit the norms of the times? Many women seeking divorces were committed.

As for judgment, it is rampant. When I talk to some friends, all they do is talk about other people in a judgmental manner. It is upsetting, because you know you have been on the receiving end of that judgment when you were not present.

And I agree that to a certain extent, we do all have to get along in the sandbox. But we should also be able to stick up for ourselves without retribution.

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 2:33 p.m.

this has always been my take on friendships Grantie...it's not perfect but it does help ease our minds when the friendship changes or fade away

i've had these kind of friends and been this kind of friend

i spent 4 years online and phoning with a friend to find myself writing him

"WELL I GUESS MY JOB HERE IS DONE"...and it was...and to continue it would have held him back from making the next steps he needed to take to continue to grow his life

we r electronic Birthday and Christmas card people now and that's as it should be

Chaos is the natural order of things Grantie...smooth sailing is the delusion

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON...It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a Godsend and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.

The, without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. Sometimes they die. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. Your need has been answered, and now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON...It is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

most people make the mistake of reaching too far and holding too tight to what may be only REASON and SEASON friends

the Universe will always send u more..we won't be wanting...especially if we have our head on right about the inconstancy of the flow...the ebb and tide

the ocean of possibilities will still be there for us to be drawn toward...and surf board in hand we can wade out into and enjoy the new tide

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 2:36 p.m.

that doesn't mean one might not feel abandoned and terribly hurt...but if we can see thru the friendship and find it's true meaning in time all will be well

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 2:38 p.m.

2

gossip for gossips sake only tends to muddy the waters of REAL issues

being wary of that kind of gossip is a good thing to do

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 2:39 p.m.

As for judgment, it is rampant. When I talk to some friends, all they do is talk about other people in a judgmental manner. It is upsetting, because you know you have been on the receiving end of that judgment when you were not present.

truer words were never spoken!!!

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 2:53 p.m.

here's the real explanation of what u can expect of a FOREVER friend Grantie dear

and because u've proven urself as a friend over and over again dearheart..u deserve them

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MsGrant July 9, 2010 @ 3:12 p.m.

Awww, nan, you should post that response as a whole blog!! This post was not entirely from my perspective, but from what I've garnered through talks with people for last few years. But trust me, I 've had some really bad "friend" experiences. I worked in a very snarky business, and everyone, and I mean everyone, talked behind each other's backs and then in the next breath were going out to dinner with them. You never knew who you could be friends with because someone was always POed at someone else. It gets confusing. I know someone who only has work friends. They were her life, and then she got laid off. She went into a two month depression, because not a single one of them called her. She used to go out with co-workers and clients almost every night. I made lots of friends at work, but my experience has taught me to treat those relationships very differently than your true friendships. Those are the ones that deserve your attention. As my former co-worker's experience can attest, when the chips are down, your co-workers are going to do their very best to distance themselves from the castout. It's human nature, and I am something of cynic, only because I was exposed through my job to some of the very worst of it.

Thanks for that song!! It makes me weepy. I was on a bus in Italy once, and they were playing that song on the PA, and I started bawling. It was really embarrassing. Like I could not compose myself!! My husband was like "what's wrong?!?!"

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 3:24 p.m.

aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh hun...i'm not posting now babe...but i wanted u to know of it because i could feel ur pain..

my best as Don Bauder would say...and u just relapse..mix some Margaritas ..slap that man on the ass...and have a wonderful weekend

lov ya online friend...Namaste..Nan

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MsGrant July 9, 2010 @ 3:27 p.m.

You just relapse?!??! Now, that is FUN-NY!!!

I'm sad you're not posting anymore blogs. Bummer.

Okay, I am going to take your prescription pad over the blender now.

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Robert Johnston July 9, 2010 @ 3:33 p.m.

In America, we tend not to think of "the long term," but of "right here, right now." Friendships, unfortunately, are part of the equation here.

People forget that with each friend made comes a human being with a heart and a soul. Sometimes, we have to let a friend go because of their overwhelming toxicity level to your mental-and-physical health.

There was a quatrain from my youth that I remember: "True friends are like diamonds... they are precious, but rare. False friends are like fallen leaves-- for they're scattered everywhere!"

If we think less in terms of "disposable" when it comes to human interaction, the world would be a better place...don't you think so?

--LPR

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 3:36 p.m.

yes i do LPR...absolutely amigo!!!!!!

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MsGrant July 9, 2010 @ 3:46 p.m.

Yes, LRP, absolutely! I think you nailed what I was trying to express. It seems especially prevalent in Southern California, because there is so much money here and there is more of the "what can this person do for me" mentality. I've noticed that people born here don't even seem very affected by it, but I've talked to lots of people who transplanted and they tell me they can't make friends to save their lives. Always they go back to the same thing. "I met these people at work, but whenever I try to make plans with them, it just never happens or they break them" kind of thing. I've been in SD for almost 25 years now, but I still can't shake my best-bud east-coast mentality. And although I sometimes come across as a meanie, I am actually a very sensitive person, and always try to look out for the underdog. I've even taken a few under my wing myself.

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