Give & Take
I am a homebody. And an introvert (are they one in the same?), and socially awkward as hell. It’s a vicious cycle, too. The more time I spend alone (which is, like, my fav), the less practice I have dealing with people. But every time I’m around people I make a fool of myself, which makes me never want to show my face in public again.
Not only that, but I am terrible about remembering things. Me: “I’ll find out and text you back.” My brain: “Nope! That’s not important so let’s just throw it in with the rest of the shit she’s forgotten.” Then, a month later I’ll be watching TV or about to fall asleep and it hits me like a ton of bricks. “Shit!” I’ll say, out loud, and my startled husband will ask, “What?!” and I’ll say, “Ugh, I just forgot something.” and he will say, “Oh…” and return to whatever he was doing because this is a fairly normal occurrence. I will then be overwhelmed with stress and anxiety over it because I am so embarrassed and I just know that the person hates me now and why am I such a screw up and why do I always forget things?
An example of how this gets me into trouble is the story of how one of my good friends didn’t invite me to her baby shower.
My husband and I have another couple that we’re friends with. My husband has known the guy since elementary school, and I get along very well with his wife. They’re that perfect couple that you can go on double dates with and no one has any complaints at the end of the night. You know, there are those couples that, when the topic of “Let’s hang out soon!” comes up you inwardly groan. You’ll go out with them but bitch about one or both of them the entire way home and then it will turn into a fight because, “Well, you wanted to hang out with them!”, etc. This is not that couple.
About two and a half years ago, they had their first child. This was especially great news since she was told a few months before she got pregnant that she may never have children. While she was pregnant, I helped her here and there and she asked me to host the baby shower. I was thrilled! I was so excited for them, and then to be given such an important task in their lives was an honor.
Fast forward. The first baby is nine months old when she finds out she is pregnant for the second time. Again, I was so happy for her. This time, though, things were different.
My husband had been in school during and after Baby 1’s birth and I was all caught up in being a lazy, introverted homebody. It’s also quite easy for me to lose track of time. My attention span is about 2 seconds and I get caught up and lost all the time. This is one of the reasons why I am late for everything. But it’s also the reason why the calendar that I view in my head is always months behind.
When Baby 2 came, we thought we would be better; I would be there for her during her pregnancy and after, and we would visit them whenever we could. Oh, how life changes your plans. She had Baby 2 in July of last year, and we hadn’t communicated with her since April. But we did go to the hospital this time, which didn’t happen with Baby 1 because of a lack of communication (essentially the number one reason for conflict).
Then, one night, I am sitting in my house and suddenly realize that I never went to a baby shower for Baby 2, and I’m sure she had one. That’s when you get all the good stuff, so I don’t know of a mom who would skip it.
At first I was pretty upset. “Wait. Why wasn’t I invited?” I thought indignantly. Then, a few moments later, it dawned on me: “Why would you have been invited? What have you done to make her think you want to be involved?” The answer to that question was a big fat nothing. No calls, no texts. No nothing.
No one wants to be wrong. No one wants to have to admit that they’ve done something — whether on purpose or not — that has hurt or offended another person. (Okay, maybe some people do, but those people are assholes…) But admitting you’re wrong is an important and healthy thing to do. It allows you to be open and apologize if you’ve hurt someone and to learn from your mistakes.
I can’t be angry at her for not putting effort into our friendship if I’m not willing to do the same. And she has children! A toddler and a newborn. And I have a dog and a cat. And a fish. My point is that she’s busy 24/7 and she can’t worry about every single friend she’s ever had. It was my responsibility to take that burden off of her and offer my friendship to her, without her having to ask for it.
We all lead busy lives (well, that is if you include laying around the house in your underwear on your days off…) and someone can only reach out so much without getting anything in return before they decide the effort just isn’t worth it. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and forget about what’s important. And friendship is important. We are social beings. Even as an introvert, I still need social interaction occasionally or I’ll get lonely and depressed.
Just like in marriage where if you want a good spouse you need to be a good spouse, if you want good friends you need to be a good friend. We all make mistakes and no one is perfect, but it’s better all around for everyone if we can own up to those mistakes and imperfections and work on fixing them.
The next time you don’t get invited somewhere, ask yourself if you had anything to do with it and try to answer honestly. Sure, sometimes it will be because the person who didn’t invite you is rude and unthinking, but sometimes it has more to do with you than anyone else. I tend to be my own worst critic, which can get me into a lot of trouble mentally, but sometimes it does me a lot of good.