I was a lonely whiner of a child, and had a hard time making friends for at least the first half of my life. I could probably argue I grew up in a bit of a dysfunctional household, but hey, who didn’t? I could possibly argue I was entitled and that affected my selfishness (I’m looking at you, Millenials). I could use my sociological foundation and question the caliber of my social interactions from an early age (I truly have forgiven siblings who bullied—really, I totes adore my sibs now). However, it still came down to me . . . my choices, my perceptions, my putting myself ahead of others. I was just a brat.
When I examine the relationships I have now, I am overwhelmed by the supports I have in place, and often reflect on the time it takes to nurture those. I don’t remember ever hearing, “You have to be a friend to have a friend.” Of course, even if I had heard it, I may just have let it go in one ear and out the other. Nonetheless, I have made sure to tell my own children that, because as a child, our first thought is, “Well, are we going to play what I want to play, or what?” It’s not that straight forward in adulthood. My relationships, whether with my brother and sisters (we’re now closer in every sense than we have ever been), or with my close friends, all merit a time investment.
I think in my early 20s I was so desperate for companionship that I gave really TOO much of myself. I didn’t have a balance. I couldn’t say no, and I wound up burning the wick at both ends. I’ve got balance now. I can have girlfriends over to chat about our lives (work, husbands, kids), and use the time to invest in the relationship. I take the time to visit bedridden friends in the hospital. I go to funerals of people I personally didn’t know because a friend there could use my support. I schedule time to visit with my family, even if it means driving 2 ½ hours to KC for a dinner date. It’s not burning the wick at both ends, because when my body/mind can’t swing it, I don’t schedule it. However, it’s so fulfilling (often filling an empty vessel) to have a group of people I can count on to help me with anything, at the drop of a hat.
I think of all those songs that talk about the glory days of the high school years. What? These middle years are just fantastic. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Sometimes I even think that 40 (*sigh* — next year) will be okay.