Coffee Rhetoric: Spilling Open
Showing posts with label Spilling Open. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spilling Open. Show all posts

July 15, 2012

The Politics of Friendship


In my early-to-mid 20's, I welcomed the company of seemingly like-minded new people and befriended folk with a moderate amount of enthusiasm. As I inched towards 30, I found that sustaining newly minted friendships became a bit more complicated and difficult to sustain as major life-events unfolded, interests changed, or connections simply tapered off and waned. Now that I'm 34, I find the prospect of building new bridges daunting. I've realized that not only have I reached an impasse of sorts in my personal life, but as much as I enjoy spending time alone, sometimes it feels bleak out on that ledge without someone to chat to or be silly with. The older I become, the more difficult it becomes to cultivate or sustain new friendships with folks in my age group . 

After college and well into adulthood, the pool of friends becomes diluted, people become more consumed by their own endeavors, and relationships start becoming more compartmentalized to fit where people are in their respective lives: mothers tend to gravitate towards other women who have children, free-wheeling singles want to hang out with other single social butterflies, couples want to hang with other couples, etc. At best, social relationships don't go beyond superficial and are fleeting. 

Every now and again, while mulling over certain aspects of life and human nature, I come across something that touches on specific life challenges. The New York Times published a piece written by Alex Williams. Williams touched on the difficulties of navigating newer friendships during a certain age in space and time…
In your 30s and 40s, plenty of new people enter your life, through work, children’s play dates and, of course, Facebook. But actual close friends — the kind you make in college, the kind you call in a crisis — those are in shorter supply. 
As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.
No matter how many friends you make, a sense of fatalism can creep in: the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now. Williams writes.
Experts also weighed in; suggesting fluctuating conditions such as an “internal alarm clock”, proximity, and settings that don’t really prompt folks to want let down their guard enough to share personal information, are also factors; which is apparently why most people have more success meeting and establishing close (and enduring) friendships during college. 
As close as folks can  become at work, often times that dynamic can change once the work-relationship is over and especially when workplace politics start to weigh-into the developing friendship… 
“The workplace can crackle with competition, so people learn to hide vulnerabilities and quirks from colleagues,” says Rebecca G. Adams, professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 
“Work friendships often take on a transactional feel; it is difficult to say where networking ends and real friendship begins.”
Of course once regular hanging-buddies and best friends start to cultivate romantic relationships, which also can affect the dynamic of a friendship, their priorities shift and the thought of being a third-wheel makes you cringe.  
And of course for me, aging brings about a certain level of self-awareness that has prompted me to be a little more discerning about the type of people I build with; and to take a no frills, zero tolerance for drama/the self-absorbed/or the disingenuous approach... and at times this can lead to a lot of moments spent alone. Either way, building and formulating new friendships has become a daunting exercise in futility, especially in this social networking age; and while I have no interest in imploring someone to be friends, I proceed accordingly and try to accept my interactions as openly as I can muster without letting any trepidation I feel from prior experiences, mar chances of potentially meeting someone cool or at the very least, a great professional contact. I also make sure my own ego is in check. I’m a firm believer in letting things unfold organically and just being genuine and getting along with anyone making a sincere effort to get on (and get to know) me. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t lament those younger days, not having to contend with the politics networking and building entails in this current technological age, once you reach a certain age.

July 13, 2012

Spilling Open

Paul Gauguin, "Brooding Woman"

Sullen Girl

 

I’ve neglected this blog long enough, but I’ve been working on editing a project that I’m expecting (or at least hoping) to pan out with some relative success. Also to be frank, I haven’t really felt compelled to update Coffee Rhetoric, contribute to any other platforms, or do any writing in general, as of late. None of the human interest stories I’ve been reading across the web, has incited me to chorus. Sometimes, I want a break from deconstructing gender, racial discord, intra-racial dysfunction, popular culture, and just the cult of personality in general. 
And while I don’t really feel the need to share that much of my own personal goings-on anymore, as I plod my way towards a break-through of some sort;  I will disclose that I am lamenting over many aspects of my being, while simultaneously celebrating my self-imposed solitariness… if that makes any sense. In other words, I miss being social, yet I have no desire to be around most people right now. 

It could be age—and me becoming while a grumpy old woman— or maybe it is just plain ol’ cynicism; but the thought of socializing or building with people doesn’t interest me as it once did… and neither does dating. My patience with certain personalities wears thin in a flash. Waning friendships and/or associations?  Bye… I’m not interested in trying to rekindle any of them; new connections? No longer interested in making any, save for a few rare exceptions and depending on the level of interest I have in the situation or person. This is not me having a pity-party and it’s far from self-flagellation… I’m not quite sure how to pinpoint my current state. It’s an amalgamation of feelings and a lack thereof.  I’m frustrated that personal goals aren’t panning out the way I need them to. I’m feeling like I’ve reached an impasse and want to buy a one-way ticket someplace faraway. I am struggling against the pull of “That Dark Place”, because I don’t want or like residing or visiting there. Essentially, I just want to be left alone… literally and figuratively; which I pretty much am, for the most part. I’ve learned to hide this particular brand of dismay well, because I've had to and quite frankly, don't really have a choice. Warding off encroaching demons that prompt me to shut down completely-- where I'm almost robotic, detached and somewhat cold-- is daunting though.  
Thirty-five is on my heels and I don’t care; as the last several Born Days, were uneventful and stark reminders of … many things, so I don't make much them... I prefer to spend them alone... with wine if I have access to any.   

Anyway, this is my attempt to write through the blockage as I continue to claw my way out of my funk, because I'm mentally worn out. At times I wish I “indulged” in other, otherwise I’d just smoke or pill-pop my way towards an epiphany… but then I doubt I’d ever get anything productive done, I’d be existing in some delusional state of being, and it’s not really a viable way (for me) to reach a resolution.  I’m just a bit overwhelmed from being underwhelmed.

“I still consider myself to be my own best friend though, and there's no company I'd rather keep than my own. Aside from my immediate family, there are very few people I care to spend more than a few hours (tops) with. Parties and particularly long "hang-outs" leave me feeling stir-crazy and most of all, self conscious. I don't really like myself much around other people. After the initial charm of my niceties wears off, I feel awkward and annoying. I long to be alone, to be with myself. It's a bit odd, simultaneously loving and hating yourself like I do.
And so I retreat back into my world of loner-ism, and I perk up. I start to feel better about myself. I shed the feelings that others are judging me and I go shopping, I treat myself to lunch, I take a bath, I read, I paint, I watch a movie (no interruptions from the peanut gallery, thank you very much). I do the things I wouldn't want to do with anyone else, and I become a better person for it.” 

Me, almost to a T. I'm working my way through the woods and towards clarity, though.