My views of late on friendship are summed up in a recent social media post, “The sweetest lie is that we are special. The bitterest truth is that we are no one of consequence.” I have never found it easy to make friends, therefore the friends I have made are valuable to me. I became acquainted with many of the people I consider my friends in some of the darker times of my life. These were times where I was an angry, self-important, intolerant angst-filled jerk, and certainly unworthy of friendship, and yet they took a chance on me. Thankfully, I matured into a better person in the intervening years, and I have achieved modest success in my life, but when I look for friends to share in my triumph, they are not there. They have gone about their own lives, achieving their own successes, and unaware of the impact they have had on my life.
The question before me now is if I truly value the impression they have had on my life, and they are too busy to contact me, why don’t I contact them? One answer is that like my friends, I have to find time to initiate contact in between work, family obligations, and all the minutiae of life. Big events, from getting a job to buying a house, appear as posts on social media where the response ranges from “likes” to brief messages of congratulations. I consider reconnecting with my friends by sending them a message online, however my attention soon turns to a baseball game, housework, yard work, or some other distraction. This is a realistic situation, but there is a possibility that I am using it as a cover for the real reason I do not contact my friends.
The recent perception of my friendships has become asymmetrical, where I hold my friends in high regard, but they do not give me a second thought. Maybe I was an embarrassing part of their life, or I was never their friend to begin with. Maybe I have nothing in common with them anymore, or I have changed so much I am unrecognizable. Maybe I have not really changed for the better and I am still an angry, self-important, intolerant angst-filled jerk. Any contact made by me, regardless of intention, is an unwelcome intrusion in their life, and my overtures would be met by ridicule, apathy, or worst of all, silence.
What is my next course of action? Do I overcome my anxiety and cynicism with the courage to contact my old friends and see how they are doing? Do I continue to brood over the lack of contact with my old friends despite social media connecting people all over the world? Do I forget the whole thing and concentrate solely on the tasks of everyday life?
I’ll get back to you.
© 2017 by Benjamin Goodrich