Someone suggested that I write about whether or not I'd like myself if I met me at a party. Considering the only parties I attend these days are children's birthday soirees, I'm not sure how I'd feel about myself. Most of my time is spent making sure Amelia doesn't stick her hands in the cake, open the birthday child's presents, or maim herself or another child. It's difficult to hold a conversation with someone when I'm constantly stopping mid-sentence to chase my child or tell her to stop doing something. My only other frame of reference for parties are those which I attended in my younger (read: wilder) years, and I'm not sure how much I'd like that girl. Actually, I might punch that girl.
That being said, I'd like to at least attempt to adhere to my reader's suggestion, so I decided to write a pro and con list about being friends with me. I'll attempt to be completely honest with my evaluation of myself. It's not that you have to worry about me glossing over the cons. It's the pros with which I struggle.
So let's get this party started!
I talk. A lot. I have a problem with dominating conversations. It's not that I don't care what other people have to say, I just really like to talk. I get it honestly from both of my parents. And I like to entertain, so if I have a story or anecdote that might make people laugh, I almost can't resist telling it. This is something that I've grown more conscious of over the years, and I have truly attempted to talk less and listen more. I don't want people to feel like I'm not listening to them, that I'm just waiting until it's my turn to talk again. I know people have to feel that way sometimes. The problem is that I struggle with this even more now that I'm a SAHM and spend most of my time with a toddler. It's not that I really get lonely when I'm with her, but when I get around other adults, I realize how much I miss interacting with people my age.
Despite my motor mouth, I DO have the ability to listen. REALLY listen. If a friend has a problem, I will listen as long as they need me to do so. And even if there are things going on in my on life, I don't try to compare all of my problems to theirs (unless it is the very same problem and I am commiserating). We all deal with different things in different ways. Yes, someone else's problem may not be a struggle in my life, but it doesn't mean that I have the right to belittle their struggle. Life isn't one big pissing contest of whose life is hardest, you know? Point is, I will genuinely listen if someone is hurting or just needs to vent. I do have the ability to STFU when I should.
I am really bad at staying in touch like I should. I am eternally grateful for the invention that we call Facebook because it has allowed me a "one stop shop" to keep up with friends I don't often get to see. Even though I like to talk, I'm not wild about talking on the phone since I have a toddler (and as I mentioned earlier, toddlers are pretty lethal to conversations). Plus, when I'm with my daughter, I want to focus on her. I am terrible about getting by to visit people, though, and am notorious for going months without even scheduling play dates with friends. I have good intentions, but it just doesn't happen. Part of it is a time management issue. Part of it is a busy schedule. But part of it is just forgetfulness and laziness on my part. I'm glad that my friends are pretty forgiving and accept my text messages and Facebook comments as pitiful substitutes for real human contact.
I struggle with saying "no," especially to a friend. To anyone really, but it's almost impossible for me to turn a friend down unless there is a valid, solid reason to do so (and even then I struggle with guilt). In the past, this has set me up for some heartaches since, as we all know, there are people in the world who will totally take advantage of a "yes friend." My solution to that problem? I have whittled my list of friends down. I try not to have leeches in my life or people who will take advantage of me. When I know that a friendship is solid and based on love and loyalty, I don't worry that I'm being used. The result is that I don't see it as a struggle to say "no" anymore; now it has become a matter of enjoying saying "yes!" I think an important element of friendship IS service. I want my friends to be happy. I want their lives to be less stressful. If there is something small I can do to make that more likely to happen--dinner, babysitting, taking them out for coffee--then I WANT to do it. Saying "yes" makes my life happier, too :)
I have high expectations of my friends. And it isn't related to me expecting them to do something for me or act a certain way. I just expect loyalty and compassion and honesty and encouragement. I guess I always thought those were givens in a friendship, but I've learned over the years that there are many people who call themselves "friend" but who will lie to or about me, break my confidence, dismiss my struggles and abandon me during the valleys of life. These same people will then smile, hug my neck, and act like a bond has not been broken (if that bond indeed ever existed). If someone is going to be my friend, I expect them to BE MY FRIEND. And I don't expect them to get defensive or tell more lies when I address what they've done. A real friend would own up to the mistake and try to repair the friendship (which I am open to doing if the other person is willing). I don't need half-ass friends in my life. I call those "baggage."
I hold myself to the same expectations. There are times I fail, but I do my best to make it right. Friends can be angels in our daily lives, but we are all still human.
I hope that some of you will share in the comments below. I want to be a good friend--a better friend--so take a minute and tell me the areas in which I need to improve. I don't need anyone tooting my horn. I need people to help me be a BETTER ME. If you comment on my blog, you may do so anonymously, so go ahead and give me an honest evaluation of what I'm like as a friend. You won't hurt my feelings (unless you intentionally TRY to hurt my feelings, and then I can't promise I won't cry). I appreciate honesty. I appreciate constructive criticism. Here's a chance for my friends to say, "I love you, but [insert something I do] gets on my ever-loving last nerve."