Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Friendships = Work

After teaching for as long as I have, some would say that it seems like "only yesterday" they were leaving their hometown to come do this because time passes so quickly. It's true, time seems to accelerate to warp speed when one is in a constant state of travel/fun/no responsibility, but I think personally, that has something to do with why I feel like it was decades ago that I left instead of "only yesterday". 

To me, it seems like I've been doing this forever. I came over when I was 24 and I feel like a completely different person now than when I was 24. I've learned a lot. I've seen a lot. One does a lot of growing in the few years between 24 and 27, especially when I've done as much as I have and chose the life I did for those few years. Before moving here, I obviously knew I'd be leaving my family and friends indefinitely. But before even moving here I had moved away from them after I got married in 2008 (literally directly after my wedding!). So really, I've been seeing my friends and family on, the first two years, a 3-4 times a year basis to now once a year for the past five years. Apart from that short stint at home between Japan and Korea...I've really not seen very much of the people I love most. 

I'm very lucky to say that I've had the same best friends since middle school. One of them has held that title since 6th grade. I'm not talking regular friendships here where it's all very infantile and running about town saying everyone is your best friend and drama and whatever. These are girls that could very well be my sisters and our friendship is strong and solid. The only thing I felt when moving away from them was extreme sadness at not seeing them; never once did I worry about the state of our friendship. I go visit them, I go back to whatever country in which I'm living, I go visit them, I go back...and on and on it's been going for five long years and it never feels any different or awkward when we're finally together again...

...That is until they moved in together this past spring.

When I went back to the US for a visit in February/March, I knew that they were getting an apartment together, I just didn't realize how much that would impact my feelings. When I went to Pittsburgh, I helped them move stuff into this amazing new space that was theirs...no me included. Yes, I have this husband guy that hangs around and he and I have an apartment but seeing that they were living the single life in this fab city together made me nothing but jealous. I wasn't yearning to be single, I was craving this intimate time with them where they would grow their own friendship without me. All of a sudden while sitting in their living room, I had a near breakdown. I told them the semi-truth, but brushed it off casually all while throwing in some other reasons as to why I was upset to take the spotlight off me. This was, after all, their exciting moving day. (And selflessness is something I've always had to work on)

After leaving the US to come back to Korea again, I saw a constant string of Instagrams and status updates on all the things they were doing together. I felt very stuck. And very afraid. Time went by and I built up a lot of anger and jealousy towards them both without either one ever suspecting a thing. One day, I posted a picture on the facebook wall of one of them, a hilariously vulgar picture, that was immediately deleted by her. I didn't get a message saying, "omg I'm friends with coworkers! Had to delete!" or anything...just delete and ignore. Now this, of course, may sound very silly and juvenile to you the reader, and writing it now seems slightly that way, too. But after all the bitterness, whether irrational or not, I had built up in the previous months, this just set me over the edge upset and I let her know. She was obviously taken aback and probably hurt by my irate message, but the floodgates opened and I finally let her know how I had been feeling for so long. She wanted to skype it out, but I was actually so embarrassed by how I had been feeling that I couldn't even face her. My school schedule changed pretty soon after that and we never got to talk about it, although she was concerned and wanted to. I eventually told myself that I needed a serious attitude change and I've since come to some realizations:

1. Friendships, no matter how solid, take work. You always have to be there and take initiative if things start to turn south. Friendships are exactly like relationships with a boyfriend or girlfriend, minus getting naked. (unless you're into that sort of thing..?) If you don't work on them and keep them fresh and healthy, you will slowly start drifting apart, losing touch and you become strangers. Thankfully, that hasn't and won't happen.

2. You can't let things brew. I didn't let either one of them know how I was completely feeling so that they could reassure me that I was being very silly. I don't know why, either. We are all very close, but I was just so jealous that I just couldn't even do it. Big mistake.

3. We're getting older (ugh). Friendships will take on many challenges throughout the years, but I think the biggest one is all of us growing older. We get married, have children, move away...but in this case, I was the one who moved away and they were the ones still together, therefore making me seethe with envy. The older we get, the more we have to work on this relationship we have to make sure it stays solid, no matter how old we are or where any of us live. Also the older we get, the more we have going on...i.e. less time for friends. That is the last thing you, I or anyone reading this should let happen. Always make time for your friends, even if it's only a text. 

4. Finally, after majorly checking myself, I realized that our friendship isn't going anywhere. As I mentioned before, each time we're together again it's as if we were never apart. The main thing I feared was that they would be moving forward with their friendship while I was over here, just slowly watching the friend strings that hold us together across the globe slowly fade off and break with no way of remedying it because, well, I'm all the way over here. I didn't focus on the fact that things never change when we're together or when we skype or talk. It's always the same. Just because they moved in together doesn't mean that I am some outsider (as I very, very much felt like), it just means that we will be biding our time until I return home, while in the process, making sure we all talk regularly and check up on one another. Everyone needs to make a move to make sure they check up on the other. 

Yes, they will be building a different kind of friendship without me, but that in no way means that I will be forgotten about. I have a different type of relationship with each of them individually, just as they have one together. I just have to keep telling myself that I'm okay, so are they, they haven't disregarded me and nor will they. Things are just fine and they will remain that way...as long as she doesn't delete more pictures I send her. <3 div="" nbsp="">




Dedicated to C & J




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