Saturday, July 17, 2010

Some Thoughts on Friendship

I've been in kind of a weird mood lately . . . or maybe now that I'm getting ready to return to a life of real responsibilities and challenges, I'm starting to return to my default mood of depressed and cynical with feelings of inadequacy and mediocrity. Of course, I'm mostly kidding. I don't really vent or rant on this blog too often for several reasons (one being the whole "what if my Soldiers read this" issue), one of the main ones being that if I use my blog to deal with a bad mood, I'm afraid my parents will take it too seriously and start worrying when it's really just a passing feeling. Sometimes, I'm just having a bad day and need to share. Doesn't mean anything needs to be read into it (Dad!).

I graduated from my course at the beginning of July, and officially signed out of my unit yesterday. Over the last six months, I've met quite a few new people and saw others from previous military experiences again, including college ROTC, LDAC (otherwise known as that summer camp thing between junior and senior year of college), TBOLC (my LT course) and even my deployment (not that I recognized the guy - he was the one who started the game of "where do I know who from" which in the Army usually involves questions like, where were you stationed, when did you go to this Army school, when were you deployed, where were you deployed to, why the hell do you look familiar then). We definitely had fun and all but now that we're all leaving and going our separate ways, I've been thinking about the concept of friendship and how it's changed.

Obviously, when I'm out with a group of people, I'll usually say things like "oh, I'm here with my friends" or "my friends and I are going to Busch Gardens this weekend" but when it really comes down to it, I'm not sure how much I'll really keep in touch with these people once I leave. It seems like I made a bunch of good acquaintances with the potential for friends but I'm not sure if I'd quite use that term.

And I'm not sure if I just define the word friend a little more strictly than others, or if it's just that I'm less open to new long-term relationships of any kind. I remember I used to be somewhat good at keeping in touch with people - when we moved to Washington after I finished 7th grade, I continued to talk to my friend Daniel for years. When we left Seattle for Illinois between my freshmen and sophomore year, I kept in touch with my friend Stephanie until after college graduation, though we were definitely drifting that final year. While I am Facebook friends with a few people from high school, I don't actually speak to any of them anymore. I only still really maintain ties with two friends from college (and two former professors), one of whom is my best friend and the other obviously rather close. I still regularly speak to about two of the people from my LT course (not including the ones that just attended this past course with me because obviously, that didn't require actual effort). Even the people I was just in Germany with, I haven't really spoken to in quite a while. Can I blame the fact that I don't have an international calling plan?

Although given today's technology, it can also be rather weird. For example, my friends from Germany, while I haven't actually emailed them or spoken to them in months, I still kind of know a bit about what's going on in their lives due to FB and their blogs. And we comment on each other's statuses and updates. But it's definitely not the same thing as actually talking to them. And FB is great for keeping in touch with people to an extent, but at some point, reading status updates doesn't actually stand in for a relationship or friendship.

I guess I've just been thinking about the nature of friendships and how it's changed over the years. My best friend and I met move-in day of our freshmen year of college, and basically saw each other every day for the next two years (she did some other stuff her junior year). And would talk to each other online almost daily as well. We definitely don't do that anymore. We tend to text now more than anything else. Or chat over gmail. However, due to that original intimacy, we are still very close (despite one major fight and falling out - I cannot live with friends at all). I've told her quite a few things that I haven't told anyone else. Or gone into more detail about it than with others. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like it's almost impossible to build close friendships like that now . . . they probably just take a lot more time to develop now with age. It also just seems like at this point in life, most people have their best friends and their support systems, and while they aren't going to say no to more friends, that type of intensity (seeing each other on a daily basis, talking on the phone etc.) is really reserved more for significant others and dating. I might be talking out of my ass on that one though - I haven't been on a date in like three years so I wouldn't know.

I'm not saying that I don't want to keep in touch with these people but I'm just not sure if it will quite happen. As much as I like them, I'm not at the point either where I feel like I would tell them anything. Not that I feel they'd judge necessarily, but as a friend of mine put it: we've become more guarded. As I said, FB can be a great tool, but I think it can also give the false illusion that you're keeping up with people when really, you're just reading their updates and forgetting to add in that whole human interaction bit.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this but it's on my mind at the moment. And blogging is so much more fun than cleaning my apartment or sorting through my clothes to determine what I'll be wearing in the next week and is therefore going in the small bag vs. the big suitcase.


Deistbrawler said...

"that type of intensity (seeing each other on a daily basis, talking on the phone etc.) is really reserved more for significant others and dating."'re totally right.

denesteak said...

I was just talking to a friend on Saturday (you actually met him - crazy blond guy in Whiskey Tavern) about how it's difficult for me to deepen a friendship past the acquaintance level, especially since graduating from college now that I'm living my own schedule. I just recently kinda unintentionally turned down a potential friendship bc I am such an awkward person when it comes to things like that, but then I'm also like happy with my few good friends. Crazy blond said that one should never be so rich as to refuse friends, and then I felt kinda bad.