Here’s a fact about me (I know you were dying to read one): I’ve never had many close friends. Let me explain. I always have a few people I can talk to and do stuff with. But I think I always wanted to have a group of close friends who could get together and talk, travel, and share experiences. The couple of times I’ve tried that have made it clear in no uncertain terms that I’m not cut out to do that and will end up being “that member” that everyone talks about behind their back and wishes would stop showing up (hello, yarn store clique; I still like many of you as individuals). No wonder I have so much sympathy for the pariahs in my social circle and keep doing my best to be kind to them.
Why is this relevant?
Well, over the past weekend, I watched as a couple of groups of people from work went on fabulous trips and had fabulous times together. I found myself wishing I could go along. These are friend groups I tried to be in, but didn’t fit in. Yep, I had a bit o’ jealousy. I’ve always wanted to be a member of a close group of friends that were drawn together because of shared bonds, not because they are members of the same club or somehow paid to be together.
Maybe this all stemmed from when I was a kid growing up, when our neighborhood was a merry band of young folks who did everything together, regardless of our differences and actually cared about each other (I feel warm when I remember how the autistic child, Gay, came along with us wherever she could, and stood on the sidelines, rocking back and forth, but a part of the group; of course we had never heard of autism).
What jealousy teaches me
One of the practices I’m engaged in right now is accepting negative feelings and emotions and not trying to stuff them away. So, I sat a bit with that jealousy, figured out where it came from, and had a couple of thoughts that have really helped.
First, I realized that, from the outside, other people might wish they had MY types of friendships. There is a lot of good in my life. Heck, reading about it on Facebook makes me look like a regular friend-o-rama person. That helped me be happy for my erstwhile friends, rather than long to be one of them.
Second, as an introvert who doesn’t like big crowds, I think the small number of close friends I have, and the fact that we don’t run like a herd is probably the healthiest for me. That’s right, as my gratitude for today said, I’m fine like I am and not everyone NEEDS to like me for me to like myself.
And third, I have seen enough “mean girl” activity from grown people that I honestly don’t want to be part of a clique or “in-group” if I can help it.
Listen to the wise
One of this blog’s readers happens to be my therapist/friend, and she has talked to me about circles of friendship. I will paraphrase. You usually only have a few people in your group of intimates, and these are the people whose opinions matter to you and whose advice you most treasure. There’s another circle of good friends who you trust and spend time with. Some may come and go, though many stay a long time. You care about them, but they don’t intimately affect your self-esteem (if you are healthy). Then there are lots of people you work with on projects, see sometimes, share interests with, etc. You enjoy them, but have boundaries. For me, there’s a separate circle that I am not in, where people who are toxic or unhealthy for me to be around reside. They don’t get to affect me at all.
All this makes me realize that sometimes, looking at other people, you think you see something you want. But, if you let those feelings play out, you can come around to realize that what you DO have is right for you. And if it isn’t, you can work to make it better.
And that’s where I am with friendship jealousy. I’m grateful for my friendship circles and will care for them with intent, so they stay healthy and helpful.