One morning while my stomach growled and my boyfriend slept, I stayed tucked in under the duvet and scrolled on Instagram like I do most every morning. It’s a trait I wished I didn’t have, an addiction maybe. It’s like my thumb mindlessly goes to the folder on my phone and selects the app that I numbingly scroll through for an hour, looking at the photos my friends posted while I was asleep.
Something I realized during those mornings is that my friendships span time zones. That means I’m never without a new post from someone, but also that means I don’t see my friends very often. Some of the people I consider best friends are here in NY, while others live in different states, countries, and continents. Social media makes it so there is always something to see, like, and comment on because my friends are updating their feed. But, if you look at mine, I’m barren.
I last posted in January, and before that was October, and before that was August of 2018. You would see that its cold in New York, that I love pumpkins, and I moved to the city nearly two years ago, but then again last time I posted was in January so for anyone else that follows me, but doesn’t speak to me on a regular basis, they may have no idea where I am at the moment.
I used to post weekly when I lived in London. That was the one time I was consistently updating social media with photos. I loved refreshing my page with my travels and adventures, yet here I am in August 2019 knowing that I’ve gone on three cross-country trips, traveled to 11 different states, to two different countries, and graduated from my Master’s degree. Could you even tell that from the look of my Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter? No. All incredible feats and adventures, yet all I show are a few photos of my time.
I’m okay with that, most days. I’m okay with adding the photos I have taken to my photo wall in my apartment; growing the memories for myself as opposed to showcasing it across social media. My partner took the leap in February to get rid of all his social media; deactivating and deleting everything. Sometimes it feels freeing for him, the societal pressure lifted, the popularity contest of likes is eliminated, and people stalking are gone, but sometimes he misses out on the things his family and friends share; the people he cares about the most. Sometimes I feel inclined to show him what is going on with all of them, but at the same time, I wonder if the solitude is what he needs.
However, it’s those people, the ones who tag us on social media when they post a photo of us or find a meme that reminds them of us, that has me keeping my account dormant. When I look at the photos I am tagged in on Instagram, I see the photos my friends posted with me in them. Some were from the day we took them, others flashbacks and appreciation posts. They commemorated our accomplishments, fun times, birthdays, and life-changing events. There were posed photos, candids, and selfies. There were shots taken in Naples, Florence, Boulder, London, New York, and more. There were in dorm rooms, at sorority events, concerts, sports games, and plane rides.
Seeing all of that made me think of friendship and the connections we share with other humans. It made me think about the memories I have with others and how people impact our daily lives. It’s rare that I go a day without talking to a friend or two. My phone gives me this untethered, but a tethered connection with people all over the world. Reading these heart-warming captions about how much these people appreciate me does a lot for a person’s self-esteem. I feel lucky that people from elementary school and middle school still appreciate me as much as my most recent college and grad school friends do. It’s nice knowing you can from these core relationships at such a young age.
I am lucky my hometown friends still ask when I am coming home next or want to travel with me elsewhere. I am lucky that my college friends are inspiring and are continually encouraged me. I am lucky that I live in such a small but huge city that constantly introduces me to people of all backgrounds and interests. I meet people that matter to me and they are constantly impacting my life for the better, but I am also learning from those who help me grow as a person.
Some of my friends make me grow for all good reasons. They are my cheerleaders; the ones who encourage my dreams and are there for the nightmares. There is so much I could say to thank those who have impacted my life for the better, because I know that are the reasons why I feel connected and loved. But this post is about the “friends” that teach me about friendship and what I could do to be a better person; not just a friend, but as a daughter, girlfriend, sister, and stranger to the people I pass on the street.
I encountered a situation the other night that helped me realize that I have grown with my ideas and knowing what is good for me. Sometimes friends can let us down. Sometimes their words and their actions can belittle us into thinking we are worth less than what we are. They can blow us off, ignore our calls, and never see how their actions can hurt. I try my best to never be that friend, I try to engage with my friends anyway that I can. I like writing them letters when I can’t see them, I like FaceTiming instead of texting, and giving in ways money could never provide.
I listen to these friends, the ones who cancel on plans last minute, rant about others, and fuel the anger in their emotions, and try to learn from them. I see how they act and treat others, and I try to do my best to listen and talk kindness back into their lives. I try to encourage through my experiences and remind them that we can change what we choose to change. I think I do it because I have had people in my life who have impacted me in a positive way and left me as open to opportunities as growing points. I listen to them and hear the negative speech and wonder “why would you just give up?”
I know I forget to text back sometimes, I know I forget birthdays and anniversaries, and I know that I have let people down in the past. I know I can act like those who speak negatively, the “friends” that I want to learn from. Sometimes when life is hard, all you want to do is rant to someone, someone who wouldn’t judge and knows what you are going through. I guess I write these posts, or journal entries, to do the same; to get out my thoughts about something, but something I have been trying to do recently is to find the positives in negative times and try to follow up negativity with something that makes me happy.
I think about the people who feel lonely and don’t want to be alone, but feel like they have no other choice but to be alone. It saddens me to think there are people who don’t feel supported or loved. It worries me that there could be someone I know, talking so negatively about someone who doesn’t deserve those words and judgment. We worry so much about our image, the one we put out in the world whether we say we do or don’t. We are aware of the implications that come with putting ourself out there and feeling the pressure of a bully saying they don’t like it.
I want more people to be cheerleaders. I want more people to donate their time to something that helps those that are struggling. I want more people to hug one another and help each other through difficult times because I don’t want anyone to feel like they are alone. If you are reading this, and feel like you could use someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me here, I will always try my best to be there for you, even if you feel like no one can be.