On Friendships: Moving Away and Trying to Retain the Spark

My brother, Daniel (the one pictured in red laughing up a storm) is better at friendships than I am. Or that’s the popular consensus amongst our mutual friends. I am constantly amazed at the fact that despite being in med school and also actively involved in a number of extra curricular and church activities, he finds time to keep in touch with close friends and extended family in different nooks and crannies of the world and still manages to be an active participant in their lives as they are in his.

I envy that a lot.

I’m at the stage in my life where I realize that I want to keep my circle small and tight. I’m acutely aware of the fact that my network equals my net worth. When I’m feeling hip, I remind myself that there’s room for no new friends. I am only interested in relationships that serve me in the same manner that I pour myself into them. I have no time for disloyalty, lack of ambition or petty tirades. The nature of my friendships, like almost any other thing in my life are progressive, fulfilling and upwardly mobile.

The Yorubas say twenty children will not play for twenty years and very early on, the ability to move on from a place or phase in my life without as much as a tear flourished within me. Having moved around so much in such little time, I became very comfortable with being by myself and would tell other people who confided in me about being scared of being lonely that it was okay to be alone.

Until it wasn’t.

There has always been a gnawing feeling right at the gut. A morbid feeling of intense fear, of not knowing enough — not being enough. And it almost always coexisted with the excitement that new phases in life and/or environments bring. I would miss my old friends sorely and would try to keep in touch but something always came up. When it was time to move yet again, I’d brace myself for the goodbyes and sometimes even, dreaded the accompanying reactions they brought. More times than one, I was walking out on a friendship — and we just didn’t know it yet. Or we did but we’re to afraid to voice it as it only made it surreal.

One might be led to believe that I’m somewhat introverted or just strongly dislike humans when in reality, nothing can be further from the truth. I am the noisiest of my clan and boast of better interpersonal skills than all of them combined. It’s a lot easier for me to make friends than it is for any other family member and yet, they continue to boast of friendships that have stood the test of time — year in, year out.

The jury is out on social media being the link I need to keep in touch with my buddies and the people outside of my family who mean the most to me because, while it does a great job at providing the initial connection — the BBM ping, the stunning Instagram photo on my feed or hilarious Facebook status update, the connection fizzles into thin air almost as quickly as I feel it. Like a preschooler on a sugar rush, I like the photo lacing the comments section with love struck emojis or like the update and chip in my bit of the joke extension and that’s about it. I laugh really hard and maybe show it to someone around but then the ‘high' wears off. I watch snaps as my bff dunks body shots off the most delicately chiseled and well toned abs and wonder if I need to put things further in perspective as to whether I party enough or not. I don’t seem to have enough fun. I argue with myself for days. I beat myself up for allowing my life to become a long stretch of boring routine. I Skype with my other friend who is a young wife and new mother and secretly wonder if I’d ever have it so together. My other friends are doing so well at #Teamfitfam. I haven’t ran in a month. I tell myself that I have to put more into reading for exams but only surf the net longer — dunking wafer sticks into thick Milo beverage as I do.

I like that social media allows me a peek into the lives of my friends but I feel hurt that I have to find out some of their victories (and even losses) over these mediums. I’m pretty old fashioned with these things. I tell you stuff. You tell me stuff. We tell each other stuff. We confide in each other. We laugh. We cry. We’re here for each other. So much so that when we don’t and these things inevitable happen, I feel bad for not checking in on my people and worse off, for fear that I might have been dropped from their lives.

But they don’t know these things. To them, I moved I’m off the radar and I forgot all about them.

But nothing could be much further from the truth.

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