Let’s Talk about Friends

So, tonight I  want to spend some time on friends. I’m not here to complain about my friends – or anyone for that matter – but I do want to talk about the concept of “Friends” as it has obtained meaning to me. What’s this? Jesse’s not talking about his server tonight? MADNESS you might think! I haven’t really had anything to add to my server progress lately, seeing as my work on the Lizard Cam has allowed it to become more and more stable and I haven’t added any new services to the system.

So I’m instead going to talk about something that carries a lot of weight with me and my view of the world.

Believe it or not, I’m one of those guys who was never very outgoing growing up. Or rather, I was overwhelmingly outgoing, naive, and sensitive as a child and learned through a few bad experiences to put up a wall and be insular for most of the rest of my younger years. I didn’t make friends easily, and when I did I tended to keep only one really close friend while closing off everyone else.

This is actually how I handled my social life until very recently. I would latch onto one person that I considered a reliable and safe friend, and ignore almost everyone else. As you can imagine, this never really ended well. Put all your eggs in one basket? Yeah… And I had a bad tendency to latch onto folks that didn’t really care for me all that much. Not THAT much, anyway. Have you ever been in a spot like that? Had someone that you really really cared for who didn’t care for you anywhere near as much? Yeah, I’ve been there many times. I call it the “Like Level Effect,” where you can like someone at level 10, while they only like you at level 5. You have no idea how much drama comes out of something like this. Or maybe you do if you think about it hard enough. 😉 It’s where insecurity comes from.

Okay! So anyway, let’s talk about what it was like to live in South Korea. Did you know that I lived in South Korea? I did! I lived there for two years from early 2009 to early 2011, and I taught English as a second language to young Korean children. Even though I was living in Seoul, I didn’t find it very easy to make friends, and all of the people that I knew and cared to talk with were in the States, so I didn’t have much of a chance to talk with them. It wasn’t a very pleasant time. But this was a time that I began to confront myself on my clingy and unhealthy friendship habits.

I started to realize what it was that really made a friend something special. And I realized that many of the people I considered intimately close friends through the years were not what I wanted them to be and never really could be. At the time I was very depressed, so finally being able to admit and recognize this was a huge step forward in overcoming that. At the same time, I recognized a few people on the edge of my social circle who showed care and concern in a far subtler — yet more genuine — way than anyone that I wanted to call a “close” friend.

So began a transition. I finally recognized who I should be calling my friends. Those people are those who return the love that you give. Those are the ones that you like at level 10, and they like you back at level 10 because you liked them in the first place. You know? And because you like each other so much, you can say things to one another and not have to feel hurt, because you know that they don’t want to hurt you and couldn’t hurt you.

I guess that all of this is really just a bunch of ranty soul baring. Some of you might get it, and others might not get it quite so much. I guess the long and short of it is that I recognized that I should only really truly care about those who care for me back, at least when it comes to intimate friendship. And I can continue to like people more than they like me, but I shouldn’t have to feel angry or upset because they don’t like me as much as I like them. That just means that I can stay patient and love lots without feeling hurt if it’s not returned.

In the mean time, as far as making friends is concerned, I am very selective and only make those friends that I really feel would be worth while. I’m sure that makes some feel that I don’t give them a chance, and I’ll be honest that I really don’t sometimes. But that’s the way it rolls with me these days. I’m selective for a reason, and a lot of it has to do with all of the bad experiences I had and the lessons I took from it.

I’ll end it with this, cuz this is the simplest that I can put it. The Like Levels have to be equal. Those who don’t like me back as much as I like them, I’m patient and can wait. Those I like less than they like me… they’re allowed to. But those I like as the same level they like me; those are the best friendships and the ones I count the closest.