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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Topic Meme: Day 16 [20140115|15:24]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[personal profile] nou asked me to write about friendship*.

Writing about friendship makes me feel pretty awkward, as I don’t care for a lot of the concepts and terms employed in relation to it. (Also see: Britishness.) For instance, I don’t have a “best” friend. Trusting someone that much doesn’t really work for me. It’s too much like putting all your emotional eggs in one basket. I prefer spreading my eggs around. Er, actually, looking at the sentence I just typed, I think I’m going to stop with that metaphor now. I prefer to spread the emotional burden of being friends with me across multiple people. I realise it probably says a lot about me that I think an essential element of friendship is an emotional burden. But I really think there’s no getting around that. If you’re going to share your life with others, they aren’t always going to see you at your best until you exercise an extreme level of control over the circumstances under which you see one another.

I remember the first time someone described me as a “very private person”. One of my high school gymnastics coaches said this in a speech about me at our end-of-year party. I was surprised. After all, I was one of the two team captains. I went to all the meets without fail, made cards and banners, sang songs on the bus, cheered everyone on, listened and responded to my teammates problems. I thought I was really involved, engaged, outgoing and open. But because I didn’t talk about my feelings or my boyfriend or what I did at the weekends, I was a “very private person”. It made me wonder whether the people I thought were my friends agreed. So I asked a couple of them, and they told me I came across as aloof, or even as unapproachable and scary.

This made me even less trusting than I already was, and given that one of my favourite quotes has always been “Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead”, that probably wasn’t a great outcome.

Despite my wariness, I think I can claim to have a few good friends. They’re generally people who are quite intense about their work, like a drink, are low-drama and high-tolerance, know a lot of weird facts about strange and slightly obscure subjects, can tell an interesting anecdote and are a little bit silly. They don’t mind that months or even years can elapse between occasions of seeing one another in physical space. They’re forgiving of my scatterbrained approach to keeping in touch, my hit-and-miss remembrance of important events like birthdays, my tendency to flap around like a mad thing when experiencing great happiness and doubtless a hundred other oddities of behaviour and personality of which I remain blissfully unaware. They’re grateful for the privileges they were born with and modest about the ones they’ve earned through their own efforts. In short, my friends embody many qualities to which I aspire.

* Well, technically also feeling “other” and food, but I feel like I’ve covered those sufficiently in other portions of the meme, so I hope I’ll be forgiven for selecting just one topic.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/909924.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.

[User Picture]From: angelcityblues
2014-01-15 16:55 (UTC)
Except for the gymnastics part, this is something I could have written.

Maybe that's why we're friends. :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-01-20 14:28 (UTC)
It could also be that you're pretty awesome. That might have something to do with it too.
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[User Picture]From: pax_athena
2014-01-15 22:06 (UTC)
This is the second entry in this series where I am almost frightened by the similarities. Especially your last paragraph.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-01-20 14:29 (UTC)
It might be that some of this comes with the territory when you choose a career like ours, too - where you have to move around a lot to chase jobs, you have frequent work-related interruptions to your daily plans, etc.
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[User Picture]From: daphnep
2014-01-16 00:05 (UTC)
I really like this assessment. It makes me feel reassured, that my friends aren't the only ones who are patient and tolerant of such things. There may, in fact, be a whole world of such people out there.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-01-20 14:33 (UTC)
Thank you. I hope that there are, because if there's one thing we don't need more of, it's impatience and intolerance.
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2014-01-16 01:49 (UTC)
I've always loved that quote, except I've always heard it "two can keep a secret if one is dead". Perhaps you being on the metric system have more people in the conversion :)

And while I could see that maybe in real life you might have walls/boundaries/whatever, I think you'd be totally fun to hang out with and get to know. I think that people just need to make the effort to know you...
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-01-20 14:36 (UTC)
It's probably gone through a number of permutations. I believe it's often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but the quote/sentiment may predate him. :)
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[User Picture]From: againstathorn
2014-01-16 02:19 (UTC)
I don't have a "best friend" either. In fact, I see all my friends on such an irregular basis that others would probably regard them as acquaintances. I've always been a solitary person and i'm just fine with that. Of course I'm married now and socialize most with either my wife or my co-workers. :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-01-20 14:37 (UTC)
I spend most of my socialisation energy on the bloke, a few friends, my work colleagues and...this journal! :)
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[User Picture]From: impix
2014-01-16 08:18 (UTC)
I can relate to this a lot. I don't have a best friend, not since I was about 13 anyway. Tim I trust whole heartedly, but that goes without saying. Other than that, I like people who I feel comfortable with, don't make feel like I have to 'perform', make me laugh, interesting and just genuine.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-01-20 14:39 (UTC)
Ah, I like how you've put that: not feeling like you have to "perform". I meet a lot of people whose expectations of my behaviour are set immediately either by knowing what I do or by knowing my other half, and are not easily swayed from those expectations. This makes me deeply uncomfortable and tends to make me shut down.
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[User Picture]From: purplecthulhu
2014-01-16 09:08 (UTC)
This all sounds rather familiar especially, as others have said, the last paragraph.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2014-01-20 14:40 (UTC)
Perhaps it may be an adaptation common to those with demanding careers!
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2014-01-19 21:48 (UTC)
The only time someone's being "very private" has ever made being friends with them hard for me was when their privacy made my own life complex or hard to deal with in some way.

Best examples I can think of:

Friend from grad school and I were going to conference. I went to pick her up at her place and the landlord informs she'd moved two months prior. I got a phone call three minutes later telling me she'd moved in with her BF (a prof in our dept) and to give me directions to get there. "I don't think you know I've moved in with XXXXX now..." Ya don't say?

Living in a garden apartment with shared kitchen upstairs with a colleague from the dept. She neglected to tell me when I was discussing moving in that she was divorcing her husband. The husband who also lived in the house. A mutual friend said she and Housemate Friend had discussed me "like a kid, when you have to tell them their parents are getting divorced."

Uh. That was almost as offensive as the time BFF?KB described me and her Awful Boyfriend as "dogs trying to figure out who owns the human." I love my dog, but no. (I moved out two weeks after that.)

ANYWAY. My point is. Privacy. It's a thing people like or need sometimes. It doesn't mean they like you any less than anyone else. Or even that they trust you in particular any less than anyone else. It just means to be friends with you, they need or want a particular interaction style.

Also? If someone doesn't say things about their feelings? Instead of quietly seething that they aren't sharing or whatever? How about people just try ASKING? If you need to know that badly, ask. Then they can say something or not. Sheesh.

AND FINALLY. After having been friends with BFF?KB? I would much rather be friends with someone private than with someone who is CONSTANTLY OVERSHARING. Way to suck the air out of a room there, by comparing me and your awful BF to your dogs fighting over who owns you. Nice. Keep that one to yourself.


Lastly? I am super extraverted person who doesn't really think sharing everything is a good idea or necessary one. And I definitely don't have a BFF. I have lots of people who are good friends who help me in lots of ways. One BFF only, to me, can be another word for "co-dependent" and I don't need that in my life any more, no thank you.

So yeah. I get you about this, and I think in many many ways we are very different about some of these personality things. You are not alone.
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