I am thinking a lot about what I want to get out of my life on a day to day basis.
I draw a tremendous amount of strength from my community. The friends I have here in Billings, the friends I can stay in contact with thanks to the internet and social media, and of course my family. I am a social person – a community based person. I always perceived this as a strength. I am good and loyal to my friends, and as a result I have a great number of amigos who are good and loyal to me back. Should something awful arise, I know that even if I feel lonely and isolated, I am not. My people help me know that I am good and love, which is the most valuable thing. If one friend, for whatever reason, stops being so close to me, I usually have others who can talk to them, or can simply talk with my in the wander one’s stead. I always leave the door open for a friend to come back into my life, and when they do, my life is improved.
I have been really happy with this situation and it has brought me a lot of strength and joy throughout my life as I mature. At the same time my investment into my friend group may in fact be, “inefficient.” In the past I was more place-based and was perhaps superior at making new friends in the place that I was; without sacrificing much in the way of friendship with my buddies from the past. I had many friends with whom my relationship existed in the realm of, “we don’t talk often because of location, but when we hang out you wouldn’t know that.” This has changed for me of late. I cannot say exactly why.
But it gets you thinking. If you can have many close friends with -lets be crude and call it- “minimal” effort, isn’t that better than having the same close friends and then far more effort to maintain those connection with no real benefit? I am afraid that this is what is happening to me. I am spending time mending to my social groups with little regard to the “costs.” I know that they say your friend group shrinks after college, perhaps I am simply being diligent in warding off that issue. But part of me thinks that I am simply using the act of investing in my friendships as a way to avoid investing in myself.
Why would I avoid investing in myself? I think that there is something I am unwilling to confront, that investing in myself might necessitate. I have a good deal of self-love, but I am not hubris enough to suggest I don’t need to work on myself. I am starting to think that I need to pull back from my aggressive socializing, certainly with friends that I do not see on a regular basis. Maybe this has to extend to fraternizing with people who are physically around me.
I do not like isolation, and I spend a lot of time fighting it. But perhaps solitude is something I need right now. I have been using my social network to combat feelings that I don’t like to experience that sometimes arise when I am alone with my thoughts. I have seen the the use of the social network as a good thing, it means that I am closer to good people, and our bonds are stronger. I do think that I have been accomplishing that goal. At the same time, it could very well be time to return to myself. I am more than a social partner, and I need to work on being more.
If I have a group of great people who can truly love me, and support me, then a journey into solitude should not change that. I am and always will be there for the people in my life who need it, no matter what, if you mattered to me, you always will. At the same time, I think that I should stop buzzing so much. Let those who need me come to me when they want me. Until then, I think I need to revisit my assumptions about what being social means to me right now. I need to consider my time valuable, not scary. I need to take full advantage of it, prize it, and make it valuable to myself, not just those I care about.
We all have these assumptions we don’t even think about. We don’t really see them there, implicitly impacting every decision we make. We just assume x, y or z and take for granted that x,y or z is great for us. But things change, and what was once good, might not be so great right now, even if it will be fantastic again in the future. This is why we need to challenge ourselves all the time. Not just our limits, though going father on each run or swim is a worthy goal, but also core beliefs about how we ought to work in the world. We need to consider the side-effects of unquestioned dogmas. I am already questioning the value of my drive to talk to everyone I’ve ever held a good conversation with. I think I will use the time gained from stepping away from that to revisit more assumptions in my life.
I encourage you to step back from something you have obsessed over and use that time to really consider the full implications of your beliefs. We have no loyalty to them, only fidelity to their utility after all. They are ours.