Friendship 2022

It’s tempting to say that in 2020 things changed, but that would be a lie. My so called friends have never lived up to their end of the bargain, or maybe they have. Maybe it was me who misunderstood the terms.

I don’t have a lot of relatives, so I once thought of my friends as family. It seemed like they were. But no illusion last forever.

I’ll start at the beginning.

My early childhood friendships weren’t the most trustworthy. We were too competitive. I lived across the street from 5 brothers. It was always me vs. them. I was outnumbered, and we were outnumbered collectively, being the only black kids in town.

Our parents should have explained the importance of collaboration over competition. Especially when it was us against a thousand. But instead of us banding together, there was mostly infighting.

Our ignorance was to be expected of young boys. In the nineties before the internet showed us realities, we were relegated to the ideologies of our small town.

The competitive nature of our ‘friendships’ turned into physical altercations that would tear us apart. What could’ve been lifelong bonds deteriorated over melodrama.

That’s when I learned, your friends are not your family.

This pattern reflected in my youth reverberates today.

Often I’ll reach out to a friend, to no response. Then I’ll see they’ve posted on Instagram. I could never imagine being dismissive of an actual conversation with a friend, while simultaneously initiating generic interactions with strangers online.

But that’s the difference between me and them.

In my heart I saw them as family. I never needed anything and didn’t want much. Maybe a text or a call. I’d enjoy learning what they’re up to, and having someone to talk to.

But the aforementioned exchange proved to be too taxing for so many I once loved.

A best friend from college never responded to a text. 10 years later and I’m still waiting. This is someone I spoke to every day with and told my secrets. She met my family and I met hers. Then one day she quietly made a decision that her life would be better without me in it.

I had no choice but to accept it, but I can’t respect it.

Maybe I did something wrong, but if you’re my friend let me know, and give me the opportunity to fix it. Don’t just abandon me because all that shows is you were never my friend in the first place.

“I’m the same person that you knew way back when. You’re acting like it’s somebody you don’t know. How were we supposed to stay friends, when you have a bunch of feelings that you don’t show? …but if you’re what I’ve created then I hate myself”

-A. Graham

We need our friends. They’re integral pieces of our lives. We wouldn’t be who we are without them. That’s how I used to feel.

What I learned is not everyone thinks like this.

Human beings are disposable to this generation. We’re so quick to prove we don’t care. Whoever throws a person away the fastest, wins. Therefore no one can be what we need to be, vulnerable.

Being taught competition, to be the best, has us seeing each other as inferior; someone to beat.

So when we experience that existential dread, feeling like no one cares about us, we should know it’s true. No one does care, and it’s our own fault. Because we’re perpetuating this cycle.

“If you don’t care then I don’t care, we’re not getting anywhere.”

-A. Levine

I know what you’re thinking. People grow up and have kids. They have bigger concerns than responding to the texts of the childless. You’re thinking I’m being melodramatic. Friends grow apart. It’s not that serious.

However, friends don’t grow apart. Acquaintances do. This supports my original thesis; your friends aren’t who you think they are. Friends don’t grow apart because real love doesn’t end.

Thats how I felt about my friends, but they never let me forget; my perception of how close we were was only ever in my head.

The good thing about taking responsibility for a situation means you’re the one who’s in control of it.

There’s a convincing lie we tell ourselves, that the world is out there, and we’re just reacting to it. But like with most things, it’s more interesting when you understand the truth. The truth is that the world is reacting to you.

Have I let this world influence me instead of influencing it? Have I pushed away the people I love?

Now that we’re “legally” mandated to keep six feet distance from human beings, forbidden to show our faces in public, and made to fear contagion from children, has this division only accelerated? (Yes)

If so, what can be done?

A coward dies a thousand deaths.

When you’re not motivated by love, you’re controlled by fear. Our truest state is unconditional love. You know this to be true because when you’re in love you feel most alive. Every time you’re afraid, you die to who you really are.

You might win some manufactured victory in your head, pretending you don’t care about anyone, but no one really wins – in heartbreak warfare.

The only way out is vulnerability. We can’t always be so guarded. A team can’t only play defense. You have to risk a shot being blocked, if you want to score. And yes I’m aware that analogy works best talking about sex.

Consider this me at my most vulnerable. Pouring my heart out, to you, my friends – saying I need you. And if love is limitless why stop there? This is my plea to the world, saying that I need you too.

We’ve let our petty differences divide us for too long. This weakness we’re showcasing is going to continually be exploited by the powers that be.

What’s the fate of the subjugated too busy fighting each other to fight their common oppressor?

United we stand. Divided we fall.

I miss my friends.