Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Growing Up

No, not the boys. Although they are growing up at lightening speed, I was referring to myself. I've been 29 for several years now, and I'm finally starting to figure some things out. During my recent funk, I thought about a lot of things. I've never been much of a follower. My whole life I've been more of a leader, or I just do my own thing. I'm ok with it. I like it, actually. Why follow someone when you can blaze a new trail all on your own? However, for the last several years I seem to have fallen into a trap of doing things not because I want to, but because someone else expects me to. Don't get me wrong, I'm still somewhat quirky and that's what everyone claims to love about me. I say "claims" because its become clear that some people that I thought were my friends aren't really my friends at all.
See, I decided that I no longer wanted to do things that other people expected me to do. I was going to do the things that I wanted to do and be happy with it. Well, suddenly I had all sorts of peole asking me if I was ok? Telling me that I didn't seem happy anymore. Mentioning that I wasn't the same Jessica I used to be. All of this seemed odd to me because I was thinking "that's strange, I'm happier than I've been in quite some time. I'm doing things I want to do and I'm enjoying every day of my life." But a funny thing happened. When enough people tell you that you "seem down" you start to second guess yourself and before you know it, you are down. Right about that time, everyone (well, all of *those* people) disappeared. They weren't concerned about me anymore, I was left off of several invitation lists, some people started gossiping behind my back and suddenly I was even further down in the dumps.
(I should pause here and mention that I'm a member of a fairly large chapter of MOMS Club and the power struggles that go on there are unbelievable, but entertaining to watch. And to have that many women, in one group, competing for power....well, you know how that goes)
And then I looked around me and saw the people that were still there. People that never once told me I didn't seem happy. The people that called or emailed me daily to see what my plans were and did we want to grab lunch, or join them for dinner? The people that just let me be me and loved me anyway. They didn't love me because they thought I'd do something for them. They didn't love me because they thought they could manipulate me. They loved me because of who I am and the type of friend I am to them. And I realized, that's all that matters.
Studies have shown that as you get older, and once you leave college (specifically) making life long true friendships gets harder and harder. At this age I realize that most friendships are formed out of convenience or simply because our kids hang out. To be able to find a friend that really gets you, at this age, is golden. And not something to take for granted.
While *those* people are still in my life (and will be for the forseeable future, the joys of living in a small town) and I still consider many of them aquaintences, I'm able to see our relationship for what it is, or what it was.
And I guess that's all part of growing up, right?


Elaine Adair said...

Very introspective post ... gotta think more about this.

You are right about fewer and fewer 'real' friends as one gets older - REALLY older - pretty soon you may only have yourself, so you'd better like who you are! 8-)))

Cricket said...

You are preaching to the choir, girl! I *THINK* you are right around my age and I would bet that this is somewhat common. I go through it all the time! And I've never been a "leader" but I have been a loner and wanting to do things by myself and my own way. Especially now that my boys are in school all day, I feel like I don't have to hang out with their friends moms and that's a nice feeling!!

debby said...

I turned 40 a few weeks ago (finally gave up on 29) and wanted to let you know that it is possible to find REAL friends after college. I met both of my closest friends (who don't know each other) when my youngest was entering school. One was another school mom (3 years older than me), and one was in my quilt group (16 years older than me). They have both been in my life for more than a decade and I cannot imagine my life without them.

This simple Life said...

Your not alone! I can't remember the last time I had a true friend who really gets me, or if I have ever really had one. When I turned 30 I wasn't ready to let go of 29 but this last year I have really come into my own. Turning 31 was the magic number for me,. Go figure!

I have decided to be who I am 100% and that's been a smart decision. I have gotten rid of the garbage and I couldn't' be happier for it.

I no longer speak to people who do not make me feel good about myself. I no longer feel sorry that I don't have a BFF to go out with.

It is so true that as you age you care less about what others think. I enjoy spending time with me , so that's who I spend my time with. I'm true to myself and that makes me happy. Odd thing is I have noticed that others are friendlier to me now that I not trying so hard to be there friend. They comment on my quirky jewelry or Vintage outfit I have on. And in a nice way.
I think I can pinpoint the turning point. I got dressed up one day in a funky sun dress and lots of jewelry. Went shopping by my myself. I was happy and singing. I noticed people where being friendly to me. A woman in line behind me started to ask me about what I was buying and then she said the kindest words I have heard in a long time. " Oh, you must be an artist"
My heart swelled, I was so flattered. I couldn't believe that I was being admired for being an artist. And at that moment I know who I was. I knew my "calling".
I went home skipping.

Be yourself , and you can skip too.

Sorry I wrote a novel LOL

Cricket said...

Be careful of Ann--she also likes to dress up as a sailor! LMAO

lera said...

I've been there. I like to think of it as weeding out the friends who really aren't friends.

I spent a lifetime trying to please everyone around me. My family, my friends, etc. After awhile, I got burned out. I have enough children to please now, I really can't please everyone. And I don't even bother.

My sisters go out regularly for manicures and dinners and I don't get invited. I guess I complained I didn't have money or a babysitter one time too many years ago and they stopped asking. And the truth is, I have a built-in babysitter now, but I still like to spend most of my time at home. With my children. Not running out in the evenings 2 nights a week.

So now when my sisters have a cookout, I don't feel obligated to go. It has made my life much simpler. And I really don't think they miss me much. It gives them a chance to gossip about me.

Carey Siegler said...

You know I love you and have for years and years!! We are a continent apart, but I would be there for you in a second if you needed me!! My friends are few simply b/c I also learned not to be with people that I truly didn't enjoy and why fake a thing like that? True friends take you as you are- the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful,and the crazy. and i have a lot of crazy!! glad you are finding your path, you are never alone and never without those who cherish you!!
peace out

Moose Threads said...

CLAP CLAP CLAP!!!! I am so glad you wrote this. =) It's so true and I have to admit I LOVE that you are doing what you want to do and not what others expect you to do. You were someone that really helped me through the tough times and still do and I admire you so much.

frillsfluffandtrucks said...

I'm here and your friend...always! Mwah!

~ Sarah

Constance said...

What a great post! I had a similar experience last year. I'm approaching my 30th later this year and I also realized that I no longer had to do what people expected me to do. I was grown up and I could choose to make ME happy *gasp*. I could chose to say 'No'. One particular person in my life got so mad she didn't speak to me for months. Definitely an eye opener.
As adults I think we crave those kinds of relationships that aren't for convenience or obligation but those that ripple with spontaneous acts of love and support.
I've learned that's it's ok to move on from what I thought a relationship was or should be.
As I've changed my expectations about others I wait for others' expectations of me to change.
We're just all growed up aren't we? ;_)