Friday, July 10, 2009

Hermit Rant: Friendship Reacquisition

I have a huge contrary streak that kicks in whenever people bug me to do things, pay attention to them, help them immediately, spend time with them, and generally try to guilt me into various actions. I get angry, evasive and begin to show avoidance behavior. My initial response to any request is a vehement "no" and the more someone tries to convince me, the more obstinate I become. This particular contrary streak has found its way into all corners of my life from writing essays for college, keeping my poor acne-prone face clear, being friends with fringe elements from high-school, finishing important projects properly, and volunteering emotions to friends.

As a personality trait, however, this contrary streak isn't all that bad. It provides some positive results. I finished my degree in a male-dominated field, held out for a job I would enjoy, weathered rough relationship patches with friends, have a high tolerance for hard-to-relate-to people, and I have been known to push myself physically and emotionally past my limits simply because I had to prove to myself that I could.

Additionally, I find it fun to play catch-up with old high-school friends who know what I'm talking about when I reminisce. I have been found by old friends a surprising number of times over the last year or so because of Facebook, the internet, and friends keeping in touch with friends.

Combine these and I have a dilemma. I love seeing old high school friends, even ones who haven't spoken, contacted, or otherwise been in my life for over six years. I will make time to catch up, spend time with them, and enjoy their company.

Except- I hate being bugged to continually do things with this category of people. My contrary nature kicks in and I begin to resent all manner of 'fun'. Irrationally and involuntarily, I yearn to cut off all contact. Invitations to go to parties, hiking, and other entertainments are relegated to very low priority. Communication creeps to the minimum and I have to remind myself to be patient when I get into conversations that inevitably end with a, "Do you want to _blank_ on _day_?"

These are not exactly onerous activities. Still, I resent being asked to do them and fret about the guilt in saying I'm too busy to participate. I have my weeks plotted out, more or less, and I rarely have an evening to spare and, as such, I am jealous of my free time. Regardless, I also believe that time can be found if the person in question is important enough to me. This, then, starts up the guilt that I'm a horrible person because I am unwilling to magically conjure up time to spend with someone who wants to spend time with me. The inequality in the relationship grates against me and only encourages me to distance myself. I rationalize that people cannot just drop yourself into someone else's life and expect to suddenly be bosom pals. Resentment grows.

I then begin to question myself.

* Am I being irrational or is my rationalization valid?
* Am I allergic to fun?
* Am I misanthropic because I do not want to return overtures of friendship?
* Am I resisting simply because adding a new social dynamic represents uncomfortable change?
* Am I submarining a possible close friendship on the basis of selfish inconvenience?
* Do I not have any more brainspace to archive friend-data? (It certainly feels like that, sometimes)
* Do I not respect these people because they are pursuing so strongly?
* Am I kidding myself in really finding these people interesting or am I just being polite?
* Does my reluctance stem from not considering these people to be part of my friend group?
* Am I putting up with legitimately poor behavior because I do not want to deal with the fallout of issuing a rejection?

All of these questions, however, boil down to whether or not I am justified in saying "no" or if I am a horrible person.

I do not cut off all contact immediately and retreat into hermitage with a copy of World of Warcraft, a bucket of salt-water taffy and a twenty-four pack of ginger ale for the simple fact that these people enjoy my company and I enjoy theirs. At the same time, I resent my perceptions of being pestered, pressured, and guilted into doing activities when, where, and with whom. I get frustrated and angry even when the invitations are offered in good faith and the resulting activities are fun, social, and ostensibly 'good for me'.

As my less-than-smooth face and my limp senior thesis can attest, resenting what's good for me can have long-term results. My lesson partially learned and understanding as much as I do about my contrariness, these negative results are one of the reasons I'm so willing to question myself on why I'm resisting.

Honestly, however, I just want to rant up one side of this blog and down the other. Being pestered pisses me off. It's days like this when I get all misanthropic and want to cuss at everyone who walks by. People suck, I want to be a hermit.

1 comment:

Sadi said...

I sympathize with the hermit desire. I have days and weeks like that sometimes. Know that any invitation you get from me and/or Dan is always simply because we love your company, but you should never, ever feel guilty for saying no - we sympathize with the busy life, and also with the feeling of being over-socialized! heh
As to these high school people - no. I don't think you're out of line. You have plenty of friends, you lead a busy life, there's nothing wrong with turning down social overtures you don't have the time or emotional energy to spare for. However, maintaining actual friendships takes actual work, so what you may really need to do is ask yourself, "do I just want to be facebook friends with this person, or do I want to be actual friends?" Facebook friendship is all about keeping in touch with big life events, the occasional comment or message, etc. It takes minimal effort. But being actual friends with someone requires saying "yes" to some of those movies, hiking trips, etc.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to catch up with someone without wanting to become bosom buddies with them.