Do you ever have a moment when you realize that someone you interact with almost daily and consider a friend is actually a person who doesn’t know you at all? Perhaps they’re a coworker and only that, or an old college friend that you’re realizing you aren’t as close to anymore. The older I get, the more often I have these experiences and I can’t say that I’m a fan of them.
I love listening to people talk and I think that’s possibly how these situations became more frequent for me. Offering advice and an attentive ear has always been natural for me. I want to help, I enjoy helping. Being the person that people feel comfortable turning to for assistance is a personality aspect I’m proud of. I offer the best advice I can, and am constantly go out of my way to help others. But perhaps that is what made me into this ‘disposable friend.’
A lot of people who I consider friends don’t really care to talk about anything other than themselves. How surprising, right? But really think of some conversations you’ve had with the people in your life recently. Do you genuinely feel close to most of the people you speak to in your day? Does it seem like they want to know what’s going on with you, or want to offer you any help? Or instead does it seem like all they want to do is vent to you, going quiet once you decide to contribute?
I find that a lot of people I know aren’t as interested in the what is going on in my life. There aren’t follow up questions to stories I tell, or if I offer up a related experience to what they’ve said then I often receive no response at all. It isn’t necessarily the fact that I’m trying to communicate substantial thoughts of mine; it could be just talking about being annoyed that the trains were late. But there’s so many times where I let thoughts like these loose to be met with silence. Brutal, harsh ignoring; a slap to the face. Then that person can be expected to come back a day later asking for help or going on about their own life. I listen because I’m always interested and I love helping. But I’ve learned my lesson and closed my mouth.
Adulthood is a lonely place at times. Gone are the days when we’re surrounded by like-minded individuals which is both a good and bad thing. Good because now we can branch out of comfort zones even more than ever before, meeting new people and unlikely friends. Bad because we miss the simplicity and ease of not having our thoughts challenged.
I value the friends I keep up with still, recognizing who to go to for advice and who to give limited output to. It’s a tough lesson in socialization, but I’m glad of what I realized and for the better judge of character I’ve acquired from these experiences.