For the past month of the HERE Year, Lindsey and I have been looking at Friendship. It's a meaningful and wily topic and one that intrigues me to no end. What does true friendship look like and feel like and how might it evolve? Does forming and navigating friendship during childhood mean something different than doing the same in adulthood? How can we find loyal friends and be them ourselves? These are all questions I've been thinking about, but enough about me. Today, I bring you a thought-provoking, endearingly vulnerable and wonderful post from a friend of mine. Jamie is a writer and a mother and I just know something in what follows will speak to you. She and I both look forward to your comments!
Looking At Myself(ie)
by Jamie Krug
I have been taking a hard look at myself recently, and I haven’t liked what I’ve seen.
The genesis of this introspection came when I was watching that new sitcom “Selfie”, which is loosely based on “Pygmalion” and “My Fair Lady”. It follows the character of Eliza Dooley – a woman in her 20’s that is obsessed with her image and spends most of her days carefully curating her life around what she posts to Instagram and Facebook for her 200K+ followers.
I always check out a few of the new shows each season, and this one seemed like it wasn’t going to make the cut to remain on my DVR list as it served as background noise while I perused a magazine and simultaneously checked Facebook. That was, until she uttered the line that snapped me back to attention.
"All my friends’ names start with @ symbols."
That stuck with me, became figuratively lodged in my gut and my mind for days afterwards, and has remained there since. The more I sat with it, the more I realized that so much of my identity has been determined by whom I know. I want to say this has only been the case recently, but I think that maybe to some degree it has been like this my whole life. Who I think I am has been wrapped up in the fame or accomplishments of others, of who they are – to the point that it has eclipsed any chance I had of retaining an identity of my own.
I do not feel as though I am enough as I am, “as is” so-to-speak. I realize that I have subconsciously felt the need to piggyback on others, on my associations with them – as though there is a carbon copy transfer sheet between us. As if I am close enough to them, some of their talent, the praise and adoration they receive will rub off on me. As though that transfer will make me worthwhile of someone’s friendship, love and attention – as though it will make me worth something, anything at all.
So many aspects of my life and my friendships have been somewhat aspirational for me. They have been akin to Pinterest boards for people to peruse – a collection of flat relationships – so many names and faces without significant depth of connection that I had put out into the world in the hope that their light would reflect onto me and make me shine, if just for a moment.
“I know her” all-too-quickly morphed into “I want you to think I am like/as good as her. I want you to want to be close to me because of that.” Or not because of that – but I’ll take what I can get. Because it’s all I thought I could get – all I thought I was worthy of.
I would happily tag along to places I didn’t need to be, drive the extra mile for friends – both literally and figuratively – in order to be there, to be seen, to ensure I didn’t miss anything and wasn’t forgotten. I assumed that they wouldn’t do the same for me, that I wouldn’t have been deemed worth the extra effort, and I was probably correct in may cases. The problem was that I never allowed myself to believe that there were genuine friends I had that would have met me halfway, that would have thought I was worth the trip, the miles, the time. I was too blinded by self-doubt to see the difference.
All because I didn’t think I was enough on my own. I thought that people wanted to be close to people who were successful, dynamic, had things happening for them and were making things happen for them. I see myself as someone that things have merely happened to. Both the fortunate and unfortunate are just flukes and bad luck, respectively.
And then this silly show came on and got stuck in my head. That single line questioning the importance of being “friended” versus having friends, and learning the difference.
Though it was not a conscious effort, though it came out of a place of insecurity and a desperate need for connection, I am ashamed of where I was – of who I was.
But I see it now, and I know where to start from. It is from cups of coffee, and real conversations on the phone. From lunches face-to-face and concerning myself with what the people in front of me like, rather than how much I am liked or how many “Likes” my photos and posts will garner.
It is learning that what counts is who I think I am and what I am worth based on where I am at - not how many “@’s” I can count.