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Thank You For Being A... Friend?

For as long as I can remember or better yet articulate, I have always been an extremely sensitive, compassionate, creative type with an affinity for people who mimic these same traits. But For some reason or another, people never seem to share this affinity for me, or at least not for long. Ever since I was a little girl, I longed for the companionship and social intricacies that seemed to come so easily for other children. Growing up an only child with a disability, my mother made it her duty to help me engage with the world around me because I was denied the privilege to physically see it as clearly as most. She could predict the obstacles that awaited a child who could only see the world in blurred fragments. So she took a secretarial position at a private school in our neighborhood and I was enrolled shortly after. For the next ten years she watched me grow up through her office window, Looking out at the playground as other children related to one another with ease only to glance over at me alone, sitting underneath a tree with a book, seldom looking up from it only to wonder, why not me? My mother went on to tell me many years later that it often broke her heart to see me off and on my own that way as a kid. But she never fought my battles, she only gave me the best guidance and encouragement she possibly could knowing that I would always come out on top weather I had an entourage or not.

To this day, I still ask myself that question, why not me? What keeps me from developing fulfilling and lasting relationships with people? I was never shy, I always spoke up and stood out whether I wanted to or not, I excel at what I do, always rooting for the underdog as somewhat of an underdog myself and I never used my different-sightedness as a crutch. All in all, I see myself as a charming, relatable kind of gal. But with everything that i am, while acknowledging everything that I am not, i find that social situations in my adult years are not far off from those dreadful days on the playground. The bullies just got bigger and mother isn't waiting in the wings to make them her prey.

Life made my mother my best friend. Much like the relationship portrayed by Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty, we know how to push each others buttons but at the end of the day, she is my heartbeat and ultimately wherever she is, is home. Everyone after this relationship is secondary but nevertheless important in making life a little less lonely and a little easier to bear. I used to sing along with those beloved lyrics to the Golden Girls theme song, hoping that someday the universe would assemble before me an all-star cast of lifelong friends who knew me inside and out; Complete with perfectly timed one liners, inside jokes, witty banter and of course the occasional St. Olaf story. So far I have only been granted the privilege of knowing the Sophia to my Dorothy but it hasn't been without its cameos from the idiot airhead, the manipulative slut and of course the balding, two bit, ex so and so.

(You may not get these references if you're not a golden girls fan but bear with me…!)

I love the human in humans but I take into account that not every human is worth knowing. But once a certain level of common interest has been peaked, I'm hooked and ready for the ride. I love relating to and learning from people with a knack for conversation. It's easy for me to overlook certain traits that should be regarded as red flags off the break. I am so willing to dismiss any negativity about a person because part of me feels its more rewarding to do so. But of course this kind of blind optimism leaves me looking more naive than wise in the end.

My longing for the perfect, platonic relationships have left me scarred and ultimately jaded. I have been burned more times than I care to remember, and always at the hands of people who swore they had my best interest at heart. I wish I could say there is some incredible upside to enduring a lifetime of social scrutiny. I wish I could tell you that the bullies on the playground all grow up to be pals and confidants but I would surely be lying to you if i did. Truth is, the mean kids turn out to be awkward adults harboring personality disorders and acute sociopathy. They make jobs out of moving into your peace and stealing you trust and hope in humanity. You give them an inch and they gladly take a mile just to walk all over you and your wide open heart. They grow to make a mockery out of true friendship and use your good intentions for target practice.

This isn't to say that everyone is out to get you where it hurts. Some people mature and learn the value of true companionship even in this very cold and electronic-based culture. There are those who still thrive on the goodness that is having someone to lean on and enjoy being there for you in return. But in my experience and with my unbiased heart, I can tell you that such a soul is a rare breed. After all, it's the quality of people that really counts, certainly not the quantity. I have often felt completely alone in a room full of people brought together by my own invite. But thats my fault and I am proud to say that I am now more "woke" than ever. To quote a local poet. "Just because they laugh with you, doesn't mean they're cool with you, sometimes you dont see the snake, you just feel the bite…" -Michael D. Martin

Just do yourself a favor and really understand the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. You will probably come to realize you have more of one than the other.

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