Hello, we are the Three Musketeers
Wow, yesterday felt like it was all about friendships; the events that stand out as making me the most happy/contented and the most dissatisfied/worried all revolved around friends. The big picture questions that can keep me honest: Am I doing my best to be a supportive friend to the people I care about? Am I building the sorts of friendships that will be fun, positive, long-lasting, and healthy for everyone involved? The operative word there is the nicely cooperative and patient "building", I think, instead of something like "creating" or "sustaining" that just invites judgment and implies a high-pressure situation in which I'm somehow the one responsible for making friendships happen. That trap of putting all the pressure on myself is so easy to fall into in this world of academia, where most of the people around me every day seem to prefer being, working, and relaxing alone instead of in groups, and where sometimes it feels like I don't even see people unless I invite them to do something - can you tell that I am an extrovert in a world of introverts? Obviously there are exceptions, especially among my knitter friends who are outgoing and plan exciting things, but on a daily basis it can get incredibly lonely, and sometimes I feel like I'm weird for wanting to have a busy social life. So building friendships is an ongoing challenge, but one that is definitely worth the effort.
These goofballs are my best friends
There were a lot of positive landmarks throughout the day, instances that reinforced the energizing and smile-inducing power of friendships.
--Running into a friend on the street and stopping for a 2 minute chat that brightened my whole afternoon
--Exchanging e-mails with a number of friends and getting quick, excited responses
--Looking forward to coffee plans and dinner plans today, and reminding myself a couple of times during a boring study session that these fun plans are on the horizon
On the flip side, one thing - just one - happened that wasn't so great, and my series of (over)reactions reflects a pattern I too easily allow myself to perpetuate: assuming that everything is going to be a catastrophe when something tiny goes wrong! I had not heard from a particular friend for a longer stretch of time than usual, and then we had a less-than-stellar (i.e. not even actually bad) interaction, and then I spent all afternoon wondering whether or not I should reach out, nearly paralyzed by the fear that my conversation/presence would not be welcome (if they're not contacting me, they must not want to have anything to do with me ever again, right? Um.... probably totally off the mark! You can see how this is a bad pattern).
My mini goal for this week, then, is to be more open to unexpected opportunities, to use my social energy the way I want to and on the people I want to spontaneously, and to simply see what comes back to me and then evaluate, instead of assuming that things are going to be disappointing and then agonizing before I even take action.
Phew, that's a lot of info, and about some aspects of my personality I'm not very proud of. Won't you share your advice? What do you do on a daily basis to create opportunities for more positive experiences with the people around you?