Turning 22: “Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you.”

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“We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah.”

I turn 22 today, so, of course, Taylor Swift is playing on my laptop.The lyrics for her song, though, are relatable; they’re things I’ve been feeling for the last while.

Everyone’s been asking me where I see myself in the next five years. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I’ve felt lost, and how this is a time where I’m rediscovering things about myself, and what makes me happy. My work, new material I’ve been exposing myself to, and various projects have helped me in determining a better idea of this.

However, that doesn’t mean the confusion necessarily lessens.

I joke about how I’m being faced with #adulting, but it’s true. Different responsibilities weigh on my shoulders than before; while it’s been a quick transition with regards to how long it took to take on those tasks, and to try my best at them, my mind sometimes is still amazed at the idea of it all. I’ll find myself asking: am I ready to do this? Shouldn’t I have a better sense of what I am doing, and where I’m going?

I like research; Google and talks with friends help a lot. It’s the latter activity, actually, which has helped me the most. Conversations with those who face, or have faced, the same transition provide reassurance, as well as advice. These talks are validation, which calms the insecurities, but they’re also opportunities to bond, be vulnerable, and to let go of everything that plagues us.

“Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines, it’s time, uh oh.”

While I may talk about work and other struggles in my life with friends, we also have fun, be it with board games, food, or sharing stories, laughter ensuing these times. I love these people, those who I can have ‘deep’ conversations with, while also enjoying ‘shallower’ moments, times where I can be silly. I like being able to show multiple sides of myself, and knowing that these people will accept any of them, that I can be comfortable in revealing these aspects of myself. I can share my happiness and my fears. A place of safety and understanding is formed with these friends; no physical location is needed except for the space we share.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.
Everything will be alright, if you keep me next to you.”

People need people. (Don’t mind me as I quote Skam; Noora Saetre’s a favourite character, and if you know this show, talk to me.) I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without friends, and I’m so grateful for all the people who’ve remained in my life, as well as newer ones I’ve met. Whether it is one conversation we’ve had, a smile shared, or several long Skype talks, as well as meetings over coffee, they’ve helped.

Some conversations have been life-changing, with regards to my perspective and understanding on various matters. Other gestures may appear smaller, such as just a well-timed joke that makes me laugh, or a listening ear to what feels like me ‘babbling’ out everything in my mind, but they are just as appreciated. These are what make people memorable to me, whether they remain in my life or if it was just a brief encounter, and they have no idea of there being such an impact.

When asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, or how I’d spend it, all I replied with was how I just wanted time with friends and family. I don’t need gifts, if I have the people I love around me, and with me. Even if further away, I appreciate any well-wishes or thoughts from the individuals I treasure deeply.

It’s nice to know there are people I can enjoy time with out there. And, no matter what happens with life, if I’m lost or facing issues, I know everything will be alright, if I have those people next to me.

All credits for the gif goes to its maker. 

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Answering the ‘What’: Rushing Less with Friendship

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There was a day when I finished work on campus early, meaning I had thirty extra minutes to spend on anything I wanted. They could have been used to work on readings for my courses. They could have been used to study for an upcoming midterm. I could have also used them to write a blogpost because it’s been bothering me that I haven’t updated in awhile.

None of those options were the one I chose. Rather, I chose to allocate that time and spend it… sitting.

I didn’t even go back to my residence first. I chose to just exit my work area, walk over to where the comfy chairs were, and just… sit.

For twenty minutes, I sat with sunshine beaming on my back through the windows while people passed by me, going to where duty called them. Their quick steps appeared to mean there was a need to get to places promptly, with no time to loiter around. Meanwhile, I just scrolled through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

It was wonderful.

This last month, I have felt like I’m always rushing. From class to meetings to volunteering to social events – I’m always looking at my calendar to see what’s next on my schedule. Even my time on the internet typically consists of following a plan. Emails relentlessly flow into my inbox, ones that must be answered. Updates on social media are for promoting club activities, campaigns, and events I’m involved with on some level.

I love all the things I do. I don’t mind being busy, really. I remember a few months ago, I was complaining about there being a lull in my schedule.

Nonetheless, being busy has its downfalls. I have to choose which events to attend, looking at criteria such as whether friends are hosting them or if the events are educational. My sleep schedule has shifted to later hours, both for sleeping and waking purposes. I always get what I need to get done completed, but spontaneity has almost disappeared.

So that chance to just sit and breathe was lovely. Going through social media and actually getting to read about what people are up to and thinking, tuning in back to my friends’ and the world’s lives and not focusing on my own as much – I realized I needed more time to do this.

I realized a few years ago that I wanted to study psychology because I love knowing what people are up to. The activities I’m currently involved in certainly add to my knowledge of why and how. Nonetheless, it’s the time spent talking with people and getting updates, be it in person or social media, that answers the question of what people are up to. Knowing what holds people’s interest is just as crucial as why and how, when trying to know people and who they are.

It’s why when I do have free moments, I try and have meaningful conversation with people. It’s why I prefer deep talks over small chat. Those who I share a relationship strong enough to have those with, I am so grateful for.

However, there are those who I definitely would like to get to know more. I can’t strengthen those relationships without being able to spend more time with them, though. Talking, interacting, attending events; doing what I can to learn their interests and open the opportunities to engage in a meaningful conversation with them is required.

It’s not so much a matter of making time to build connections but rather to open myself up to the chances for such connections. In my case, time does seem to be the main obstacle. I’m going to strive to work more efficiently so as to hopefully give myself some more ‘spare minutes.’ As well, I’m going to try and breathe when a friend asks to spend time together, giving myself a minute to really consider whether a task needs to be completed right at that minute. If it can wait, then I’ll try to really be present in that moment with the other person, rather than worrying over what awaits.

There will hopefully be less guilt, due to the increased amount of time I will get to be with amazing people. There will hopefully be a moment later in the year where I can look at the people I’m surrounded by and feel much closer to them than I do now. There will hopefully be less feelings of really being part of ‘a rat race’, always scurrying from one task to the next.

I look forward to it and other changes to come. Happy belated 2015, everyone.

Taking moments to relax and connect with others is important

Stock photo courtesy of Unsplash

Friends and Expectations: Their Presence in Your Life

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“Who you are exposed to, who you choose to surround yourself with, is a unique variable in all of our experiences and is hugely important in making us who we are.” –Rob Lowe, Love Life

I enjoy Rob Lowe’s acting and the books he has written. I like watching Youtube videos of him being on Ellen, and become excited when I hear he’s possibly in a town near me for filming. Rob Lowe is a celebrity whom I follow. However, he is not the biggest influence on me; that role would go to my family and my friends.

This blog post is about the second group. I was motivated to write about them after reading the featured Rob Lowe quote above. There was also the fact that I’ve come to many realizations about friendship in the past few months and this post is my attempt to summarize these thoughts. Thus, this is an opinion piece.

Friendship is  an encompassing term. It’s a bond with other people, one we choose to maintain through conversation and action. It’s centered around enjoying each other’s company and being able to get along well; that’s the basic idea, at least. Nevertheless, it’s much more complex  than that.

Friends matter. They, unlike family, are people we choose to have in our lives. They are those we can go to if we are struggling, a support group when needed. Mental health wise, the outcome of struggles are much more positive if a support group is available, thus making friends even more valuable.

The thought I want you to consider is whether  friendship requires more than just being a passive presence in someone’s life, especially if it’s supposed to be what is deemed  a ‘good’ relationship.

As I mentioned earlier, friends play an important role. They are the people whose lives we choose to have entangle with our own, people who we give time, care and energy to. They are people who are holding positions that come with a power to affect and influence us, positions we put them in because of the  hope that they will wield that power in a positive way. This hope is trust and the longer they have that position, the more we can see whether they live up to these mutual expectations.

In that time of friendship though, we may discover more about them, including characteristics that we do not want in our lives. This is when we examine the costs and benefits to this friendship – known as exchange theory –  with the hope  that the benefits outweigh the costs, and this is why the friendship continues.

Sometimes that  is not the case for their continuing presence.Rather, it is our care for the person and fond memories of past times that has us keep them in our lives.

People change, and not at the same rates nor in the same direction. This is cause to examine friendships from time to time – and consider changing how close you are to some people.

Those who are closest to you are those you would usually  turn to in times of need. If  they’re not going to understand who you are  – values, fears, hopes included –, though, then their response may not be helpful.

If those closest to you actually affect you more in a negative way – why keep them?

Take a look at how your friendship operates, and whether you are truly happy with it.

Friendship is about giving. Do they give back what they deplete from you? That energy, that time, that understanding and care?