I have few close friends and even fewer people seem to get me. At first I thought there was something wrong with me. Then I felt that I didn’t communicate enough. With time I have realized that the problem is dual. First of all, I don’t speak too much about me. When I don’t speak so much about myself, people will not talk to me about themselves. And secondly, I don’t ask people too much about themselves. This is not a great thing socially since people perceive me to be someone who doesn’t care, doesn’t listen or doesn’t have empathy. But the truth is the few people who do know me know that I can be a fabulous friend. To me friendships matter more than the so called blood relatives and I am always wiling to give a friend their due respect and time.
Though I do care immensely about people, I realize I have become this way post my marriage. S is someone who doesn’t really indulge in people talk. Our conversations revolve around so-called things that matter. Life, society, situations, problems, etc. And so with time I find it very difficult to change gears and speak about everyday life. But this is something I have attempted to change this year and hope I do get better as the years pass. But I have also remembered another valuable lesson about friendship this year.
Swami Sukhbhodananda, one of my many gurus, once reminded me that though no human being has the power to choose relatives the power to choose friends lies with us. We accept whoever and whatever comes in the way of relatives, unable to choose what those relationships impose on us. And that was why it was very important to take the time to make the right friendships because friendships were our choice. Surround yourself with only those who make you feel alive, he said.
Despite this wisdom, many-a- times my choice of friendships has been determined not by choice but by circumstance. Though I am blessed and fortunate to have met people who have taught me valuable lessons:- Friends, who have held my hand as I cried, smacked me when it was time to stop grumbling and acted silly only so I could laugh; I have also made friends who over time have slowly passed on much pain, bitterness and grief my way either through their actions or through my dawning awareness of their real personalities.
It takes months before you begin to understand people. While the initial spark and circumstances that drew you close progresses to the routine of everyday conversations, you begin to look at people beyond their words. You begin to look at intent, you begin to observe actions. In the fresh fun of new friendships, we overlook their flaws. But with time their flaws and our flaws begin to clash. And if their personality differs from yours, we tend to get angry and withdraw suddenly or we forgive them their flaws.
Forgiving someone their flaws and forgiving yourself in choosing that friendship is the hardest thing of all. After all learning to unfriend someone is not easy and it is so hard to let go of an individual when you feel you have invested so much of time, energy and emotion in them. But two valuable lessons I have re-learnt this past year is that
1. That while your goodness might keep you investing in a friendship hoping for a change in your friend, it is important to also have the other person invest in you.
2. Not all friendships are meant to be forever.
3. I got this from a beautiful article by Rebecca Lammersen
“ Check in with yourself when you leave someone’s presence. Ask yourself, Do I feel uplifted and happy? Or, do I feel depleted and lethargic? If you feel uplifted, the person you were just with is a supporter, keep them around. If you feel depleted, the person you were with is an enemy to your heart, don’t associate with them and make no apologies,” she says.
When my vision in life is to be someone who brings joy, goodness and hope into other people’s lives, when my goal is to be spiritually aware and uplifted every moment, I cannot allow myself to be hurt by the words and actions of those who do not share the values as mine.
And so it is time for some goodbyes, it is time to un-friend and re-friend.