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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Friendship For All Seasons...

One of the goals that I have for 2017 is to try and really get to know myself, and I think that in order to do that, I need to confront some hard truths about myself, as well as be more vocal about what I like and what I don't like.  Keeping things bottle up inside is not healthy for anybody, and considering that this blog is called "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE", I think it's time that I start bringing back life lessons.

So for today, I plan to use this space to talk about something that I have absolutely no use for, and as I make my way through this year, I plan on doing everything possible to steer myself clear of this.

Have any of you ever heard of the term "fair-weather friend"?  I'm sure most of you have, but in case you haven't, a fair-weather friend is somebody who only wants your friendship when things are happy and carefree, but the minute things become difficult and you need them the most, they flee.

Basically, when sunny days sweep the clouds away, it's a happy Sesame Street friendship.  But when rain arrives and floods Elmo's World, you're feeling anything but tickled.

Believe me.  I know all too well about the concept of fair-weather friends.  I've had several in my lifetime, and every single time it all ends up the same way.  Where I am there for them whenever they need help, but they are unable to reciprocate whenever the situation is reversed.

And I do NOT like that at all.

As somebody who has always had difficulty making and keeping friends for various reasons, I probably am one who takes friendships much more seriously than other people.  Heck, for the first few years I was on Facebook, I refused to unfriend or block people because I believed it was cruel.

But sometimes when friendships become one-sided or toxic, you have to let them go to preserve your own sanity because if I've learned anything about life, it's this.  Fair-weather friends suck the energy right out of you, and you owe it to yourself to make the decision to find people who will be there for you through thick and thin.

Truth be told, I haven't had a lot of people in this world who have told me that they will have my back no matter what happens.  And when I find someone who will be there for me through thick and thin, sometimes I try a little bit too hard to keep them in my world that I feel that I come across too strong, or I don't come across strong enough.  And the reason for that is because I have been burned by fair-weather friendships a lot.

When I was a kid, it seemed as though to win friends and influence people was to give them whatever they wanted.  Of course, we all know that this way to go never works for anybody, but at the age of seven, allowing the other kids to eat your Oreo cookies during recess so they could be bothered to play four square with you for eight minutes seemed like a reasonable trade.

My only problem was that I only had a limited Oreo supply.  If only my dad worked for Nabisco cookies, I could have had it made.

Of course, true friendship cannot be bought with Oreo cookies.  I'm just kind of ashamed that it took me until the fifth grade for me to learn that lesson!

Friendship can't also be gained by allowing people to copy off of your homework either.  If I had a nickel for every single time I helped a classmate learn how to spell a word, I could have retired at seventeen.  Yes, spelling came naturally to me and I probably had a wide vocabulary at that time - but that was only because one of my favourite books to read was the Charlie Brown Dictionary (a book I wish I still owned).  The point is that I didn't mind helping my classmates out because I believed that if I helped them with their homework, they would see me as cool and allow me to play with them.

Instead, I more often than not sat in a corner watching everyone else have fun - and I was hungry too as I gave them all of my cookies too!

Things improved a bit when I reached adulthood, but I find that the older I get, the less tolerance I have for fair-weather friendships.

One of the most recent examples of this happened about a couple of years ago.  I had been friends with this guy for about five years, and I thought that we had a decent friendship for a bit, but there were some signs that I ignored along the way.  I found that he could be quite snarky at times with other people, and that if he saw something that he didn't care for, he could be quite abrasive.  But I also knew that he hadn't had the most pleasant of experiences, so I chalked it up to the fact that he was still dealing with it, and I tried to be as patient and supportive as I could be.

But then I posted a blog entry quite similar to this one where I opened up about something very important, and it got some mixed reactions.  Some were actually quite sympathetic about it, and others felt the need to make fun of me.  And then this person who I had called a friend for five years happens to pop up and comment on the blog that I had just posted and the comment read "I feel like I'm a psychiatrist and you're my 10:30 appointment".

And, I'm thinking to myself - you @#$@$.  Of course, I try not to include heavily salted swears in this blog so I had to blot it out, but still...what nerve!  And of course the very people who I had also thought were friends and who made fun of me agreed with him.  It was all a big joke to them, but yet here was I pouring my heart out and they just decided to take advantage of me.

So I did the only logical thing I could.  I cut all of them out of my life.  It's been two years since that day, and I feel all the better for it.  It's nice to be able to have more time to spend with those who actually want to be my friend instead of those who took advantage of me.

But then I got to thinking about why I had allowed such toxic people in my life in the first place, and the only thing that I can think of is that I invited them into my life at a time in which I was most vulnerable.  I think that I had seen that they had a common interest with me and that I thought I could build a friendship with them based on that.  Sometimes this works, and if both parties have no ulterior motive, it can blossom into a true blue friendship.  But I think that in order to have a true friendship, then both parties have to support each other through the good and the bad.  And if one person in the equation can't do that, then there's no hope for a friendship.

And I sincerely do not hate those people.  I really do wish them well and hope that they find like-minded people that they can share time and feelings with.  I'm just too old to deal with people who only want to be a part-time friend, and only at their convenience.

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