(also this post is gonna be long. sorry.)
I have lots of internet friends. Some I've met in real life, some I may never meet in real life, but I actually feel closer to them than you might imagine. One of those awesome internet-friends-I-just-haven't-met-yet-but-I-know-we'd-be-besties friends is Bex.
Bex is rad.
Bex sent me a CD full of Nate Ruess music (Fun., yes, but also stuff from when he sang with The Format).
Bex (indirectly) encouraged me to read Bukowski and watch The Big Bang Theory. These are all reasons Bex is the bomb.edu, but I want to talk about a post she wrote recently (real recently...like, published today) in which she basically set up camp inside my brain and put into words many of the things that I haven't been able to quite articulate yet. Here in a moment or two, I'm going to straight up copy/paste some of her sentiments and then add my comments. But first...
Anyone who knows me (and knows me well) will have noticed that, over the past 10 months or so, I have made some pretty drastic changes. I stopped drinking soda, cleaned up my eating, and lost 20lbs (and counting, I hope). I stopped drinking alcohol. I started spending more time at home. I got back into a habit of spending time with the Bible and reading my devotional emails and trying to live a Christ-focused life. I started saying "no" to things.
I'm trying to simplify.
All of these things have made a couple of things very clear to me...the first and most important was that I needed to start making Christ a priority again. The (very close) second was that I have not been the type of wife I should've been trying to be from "I do." The third was that, even with all these awesome internet friends...all you really need is a close circle of real life friends. K.I.S.S. and all that. Keep it simple, stupid.
I'm trying to recognize which friendships are worth cultivating and making daily, real effort to maintain, and recognize which ones are surface, online, fringe friendships that probably don't need to take up a whole lot of energy or drama or stress. Please understand what I'm saying here. Nobody is a throw-away friend. I wish ill on nobody. All I'm saying is...simplify.
I need to prioritize.
What makes me happy? Actually, what makes my husband happy? What makes my Creator happy? Is what I'm doing making all 3 of us happy? Because that's what matters.
So onto the Lovely Bex and her amazing words that seemed to reflect what I've been stressing over lately:
I'm here to tell you that sometimes it's okay to be selfish. There's a difference between being selfish and being self-centered in that selfish can be temporary, whereas self-centered rarely is. Sometimes you're worn down by constant demands that are made by loved ones and/or coworkers. Hell, sometimes you demand too much of yourself. It's okay to take a step back and breathe, because here's something that took me too damn long to learn -- it's okay to say "no" to people. You can say no to hanging out if you want to stay in. You can say no to a phone conversation if you know that you'll just be dead air to the other end of the line. You can say no to favors. If your friends know you well enough, they'll back off. They know as well as you do that if they had a crisis in the middle of the night, you'd still show up with no hesitation. Needing time to yourself is not synonymous with being a jerk.
You guys, if I'm saying "no" to things and wanting to stay home instead of going to the bars, or not taking the ONE day I have off and going to see your show, stop taking it personally. It's not you, it's me. I just need to recharge. I need to do what's best for me.
It's okay to re-prioritize your life even though some people may not make the cut... and it's okay not to miss those people, too. Usually it means you've made the right decision. You'll get nostalgic occasionally, but it's mostly nostalgia for the fun or the happiness you had with the people in question. In our everlasting instinct to want to think the best of people, our memories turn to the happy times when we reminisce. If you've ever been upset over the end of a crappy relationship, you know how this goes. People change. You change. As the age-old proverb goes, change is the only constant.Speaking of which, it's okay to change. You are not betraying anyone by growing as a person (and if they act like it is a betrayal, seriously, it's time to re-evaluate your social circle). Life is too short to pretend to be something or someone you're not just to appease other people or keep from hurting their feelings. Some people want to travel, others are homebodies. Some people want to get married, some will never get out of their party animal stage. Some people want kids, some people don't. Some people need friends outside of their marriage, others are perfectly content with their spouse and their family. It's okay to be any of these things, as long as you don't lie to others -- or yourself -- about who you really are and where your heart truly is.
Some of those are...whoa...I mean get out of my head, Bex. The colored text (I added the color to point it out) is something I've been trying to verbalize for a couple of weeks now.
Facebook has put a pressure on all of us to hang out all the time and stay completely invested in the lives of our 400 friends. I really wish I had a nickel for every time I've seen an "I miss you so much let's hang out!" and it just seems...rote. Borderline insincere at times. But here's the thing...it's okay! I really don't mind if you don't wanna hang out with me; nor should you mind ("you" being the general population here, of course) if I only want to stay informed of your life based on what you choose to share on social media. It's really, really okay. I love seeing parts of your life, "liking" your photos and whatnot...but it's really really okay if we don't keep putting this ridiculous pressure on finding a time to get coffee, which is probably something neither of us really wants to do, so let's just be honest about that.
I don't expect my hundreds of Facebook friends (does that make me sound like an a-hole? I don't mean to...) to put in a whole lot of effort to keep up with me outside my public timeline. I won't do the same for all of them. Put that energy into the friendships worth cultivating, and you'll save everyone a lot of hurt feelings and awkwardness. It's really okay.
Re: it's okay to change -- yes. It's okay for me to change. It's okay if you change. It's okay if you don't change. I don't drink alcohol at the moment...I don't care if you DO. I want to stay home with my husband on a Friday night...I don't care if you wanna go OUT. It's okay to be different and to have different priorities. I don't feel judged at all for my recent choices, but it's important to me that my friends know that neither do I judge them for theirs (unless they are harmful, of course, but that's coming from a place of concern and compassion, not judgment).
If someone is incandescently happy, don't you think you should be happy for them too? Don't you think that they might have walked through the fires of hell to get to their happiness? Don't you think that if you focused a little bit more on yourself and how to escape your struggles that you'd eventually find your own happiness (and want to shout about it from the rooftops)? I mean, I know it takes less effort to sit, sulk, and snark (and if that's what you choose to do, then I sincerely pity you) ... but what will you ever truly accomplish with your life if that's your attitude toward someone you claim to love who is happy?
I'm...working on it. And yes, I know that "I'm working on it" and "I'm aware of it" do not give me carte blanche to be an asshole. I'm going to mess up and struggle, but please know that it is something I'm aware of.
I recently turned 31. I'll blog about the actual birthday and all of it's awesomeness soon (all my pictures are at home, and by the time I get home, I'm sick of looking at a computer screen). I thought that, by my 30s, I'd have more of this all figured out.
But I'm making changes, and they feel good. I truly hope the same for you...for my "fringe friends" and for my close friends, I wish you the same clarity and simple happiness...whether that comes on a quiet patio with a cup of coffee or surrounded by music and loud laughter and talking and people!
And I ask your forgiveness if I've hurt you or made you feel judged or unhappy on this journey of mine. It's my responsibility to not take the stumbling blocks along the way and use them as an excuse to bring you down with me.
Now, go get yourself another cookie (or bagel, or pickle, or whatever it is you are craving) for making it through another long post!