this post was originally published on the 15th of June, 2015.
I have always been the kind of person to feel too much. When I’m happy, I’m kinda overbearing. I talk too much, I can’t stop smiling and I probably call my friends too often. But when I’m sad or anxious, I sit in silence. I watch Netflix and eat too much, and go to text someone before realising that I don’t really have anything to say.
And my anxiety will tell me that whomever I want to talk to doesn’t really want to talk to me at all.
I’m currently immersing myself in blogs and scripts and appointments and Netflix. I haven’t spoken to a number of my friends properly in weeks. Maybe months. And it feels like I’m being a horrible friend, but then I remember that I have no real capacity to be a good friend at the moment. I don’t remember how.
I teeter on this invisible balance beam of Caring. If I fall too far right, I end up Caring Too Much, and I’ll send a wave of messages to my friends reaffirming my love and support for them and oh my gosh I miss you so much can we hang out in twenty minutes you’re so amazing you can do whatever you want to okay I believe in you let’s hang out soon please because I miss you.
If I fall too far left, I feel nothing. I don’t remember any of the lovely things any of my friends have ever said to me. All I know is that in that particular moment – maybe I’m watching The Office at 11pm – I’m physically alone, and my mind tells me that I’ll stay that way.
I don’t know how to people. I wish I knew how to people.
Growing up and trying to People
High school didn’t really prepare me for much peopleing. Mostly because it was an all-girls school where your friendship group revolved around who you sat with at lunch, and your friendships themselves were maintained by the constant ritual of eating lunch and complaining about school. I still have a handful of wonderful friends from high school, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t know how to people.
University was a whole new ball game. BOYS. I had spent the past five years having very little interaction with boys and suddenly, there they were. And guess what? YOU COULD BE FRIENDS WITH THEM. What a novel concept. I had no idea what to do, though. And so, once again, I don’t know how to people.
How To People: Freakout Edition
I have this (stupid) tendency to reach out waaaaaay too much when I feel like I’m losing a friend who happens to be really important to me. I’ll post on their Facebook walls, I’ll text them too much, heck, I might even just send them boring Snapchats all day long. I don’t mean to. It’s the anxiety. I don’t want to lose this friend, and my mind likes to say things like ‘they don’t like you’ and ‘they have more important friends than you’. And then, you reach a point where their new BFF is in their Snapchat story and you watch from your bedroom eating Nutella from the jar.
I don’t know how to people. But I do know that you don’t have to people with people you don’t want to people with. Does that make sense?
As scared as I am to lose really important friends, I just wish they would tell me if they don’t want to people with me anymore. That would hurt a lot less, I think. It’s happened once before. A friend said ‘I don’t know, I just don’t feel like hanging out with you as much’. I felt a wave of relief for some reason. I felt better.
It turns out, I’m horrible at extending that same courtesy to others. If I had the guts to simply say ‘I do not wish to people with you anymore’, lives would be saved, there would be no wars, and we’d probably live in a super awesome world of cakes and awesomeness.
Coming to the realisation that someone you love a whole lot doesn’t want to people with you anymore is sad. And horrible. And lonely. But maybe – just maybe – someone else wants to people with you, and now’s their chance.
Peopleing and moving forward
So, if you’re a dear friend reading this and you wish to stop peopleing with me – no stress. Just let me know. I’ll set you free, beautiful doves, and you can fly far away from me and my horrific metaphors. (Seriously. What the heck was that?)
But if you’re a dear friend whom I’ve been smothering and you wish to continue peopleing with me… YAY! I apologise for the excessive outpouring of love. It’s the anxiety. I have your back. Send me a smiling poop emoji and I’ll know that all is good in the hood. I’ll back off a little bit, give you your space, and I’ll stifle that anxiety voice with crapton of Nutella. I promise to learn how to people better.
Now I feel like writing a book for fellow people-novices. How to People. If someone handed that to me years ago, well, maybe I’d be a little confident in my peopleing today.
I don’t know how to people. But I’ll always want to people with kind people worth peopleing with. You should too.
May you always find your people to people with.