Just before I launch into know-it-all preachy mode, just an quick update on my life -
I went up to Oregon last weekend for my cousin Brian’s wedding! Brian and Lindsey had one of the most touching ceremonies I have ever witnessed and I am honored to have been there for them. I took dozens of photos but my parents are still up north with the camera so those will have to wait. My family is going to Patrick’s Point and Agate Beach without me since I have school all week; I flew home early Monday morning and am staying with friends.
As far as school goes, I’m currently taking Concepts & Imaging towards my major. It’s the most challenging class I’ve had yet, and I’m not likely to get a high grade, but I’m still glad I have this class and Ali as my instructor. Here’s some WIP shots of my current project:
I also bought myself an expensive birthday present while I was up in Oregon (and didn’t have to fuss with sales tax) - a medium Wacom Intuos5 tablet! Best present ever omg and completely worth the money. It’s so much better than the Intuos3 tablets that Ex’pression issues us for the class (and we have to return those at the end of the term).
So, on to the real topic of this blog post -
People have asked me lately why I’ve been so happy and emotionally stable for the past few months. Not in a bad way - I mean, if you had seen me before May, you would have seen what a mess I was, both physically and mentally. I was depressed. I was crying every week. Friends didn’t know how to deal with me or even be around me. I was definitely not doing well.
Somewhere along the line, I realized the mistake I was making. You see, before now, I considered relationships both platonic and romantic to be the emotional anchors in my otherwise turbulent existence. I poured heart and soul into each and every person I considered a friend, every guy I was in a relationship with. I befriended those who were needy, those who were confused, lost, depressed - basically, people just like me. I thought that those kinds of people could give me the emotional support and unspoken approval I craved. I mean, since they’re just as needy as I am, wouldn’t they reciprocate the kind of love I gave them?
I was wrong. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever be friends with someone who is needy or depressed or has any sort of issue. What I’m saying is that I was depending on people for emotional stability when they were not capable of helping me. I was pushing unnecessary responsibilities onto people who would never fulfill the role I put them into.
In all my foolish naivety, I believed that the more I poured into a relationship, the more the relationship would deepen and grow. Not exactly true. First of all, the person in question has to be capable of returning that affection, which in my case, was highly unlikely. Not a bad thing, just differences among different people. Secondly, if I didn’t build a proper foundation for such a friendship, everything would fall apart within a short period of time.
My relationships usually end up like this:
- I find a person who appeals to one of my needs very strongly.
- I end up being emotionally dependent on that person and telling him/her all my deepest secrets within the first few weeks.
- I start to like all the same people and things and enjoy the same activities.
- I begin to take on all of that person’s emotions and feelings, regardless of my mental state.
- I get upset and start having crying fits when I realize that person will never be capable of being the friend I wanted.
- I then let the relationship deteriorate rather quickly.
This was a vicious cycle. Most of my friendships were so short that I would have an entirely new group of friends within half a year. Until recently, my romantic relationships wouldn’t last more than two or three months.
Here are some things I now realize about people:
- I cannot fix them or their problems. If I am a close friend, I can probably gently point out ways they can improve themselves or solve their problems, but I cannot make anybody follow my advice and I cannot fix every issue I come across.
- Different relationships are for different purposes. I have friends to have good times with, friends who I unofficially mentor, friends who I can count on to give me a place to stay if I needed one, friends whose shoulders I cry on. No one person can fulfill all roles.
- I can’t be friends with everybody. There are people who I will never get along with; there are people who will never like me or acknowledge me regardless of what I do for them. That’s okay. They’re not necessarily bad people. Also, I have more time now to concentrate on the people who I really do get along with.
- I stick with friends who inspire me. I spend time with all kinds of people and have all kinds of friends, but the people I spend the most time with are people who are more emotionally stable, better dressed, smarter, more talented, more driven and focused, more artistically gifted. I find that they inspire me to be better at what I do and to improve myself, rather than to focus on the negatives.
- I need to watch out for my own well-being first. Even if I think I can help someone out, I now consciously make an effort to ensure that I’m not stretching myself too thin or doing things that hurt me. That isn’t being selfish or self-centered, it’s common sense. If I am not taking care of myself how can I take care of other people?
I’m still not the greatest friend, nor do I have perfect friends, but I am a lot more confident in myself and secure in my emotions than I was before. I can enjoy the little things about my relationships that were previously overshadowed by anxiety and insecurity. Even some of the friendships that had previously deteriorated are now active and healthy again.
Just some thoughts, and always, a work in progress.