I wanted to talk about friendship, and what it means to me, personally.
First off, I'm a very private person. I'm not shy, but I don't talk about my private life and the things that are important to me to hardly anyone. For example, while I was trying to decide whether I'd publish with Valor or one of the other publishers, I didn't tell anyone except my immediate family and a few close friends what was going on. Perhaps I should've included more people - they say there's strength in numbers, right? But I wasn't comfortable doing so.
I've finally come to understand why I'm this way, and I know a lot of you will relate. It's a trust issue. I'm UBER loyal to my family and close friends - I defend them, even when I know they're in the wrong, and I wouldn't dream of backstabbing, gossiping about, or otherwise hurting them. Like most, if not all of you, I've been burned by friendships, and so I take my time getting to know people and making sure I really want to let them in.
My process in becoming friends with someone goes like this:
- Observe from a distance for a while
- Approach and talk - comparing personality types, interests, (sensing for a "kindred spirit")
- Get used to being around the individual
- Hang out a few times - get to know even more
- Repeat steps 2-5 for as long as necessary until a decision can be reached as to whether the friendship would be good for both parties
- If the friendship works, continue to step #7
- If the friendship doesn't work (no compatibility) return to step 2, sometimes 3, indefinitely
- Spend time one-on-one, do a little opening up - but with nothing too personal
- Watch to see how person reacts to my opening up
- If s/he reacts well, proceed to step #9
- If s/he doesn't react well, return to step 2
- Talk about anything and everything - a kindred spirit has been found.
I've found that unless the person I'm spending time with opens up with me at the same pace I open up with them (in as little or as much time as me), I can't relate to them. I have a friend who likes to check up on me - see if I need anything, see how I'm doing, etc. While I really, really appreciate this, we've known each other for almost two years, and our friendship has never grown past stage 5 from above. It can't - even though she wants it to. She never volunteers information on herself, and never fully answers my questions. She is completely selfless, but to a fault, and I've never been able to get her to understand I'd like to get to know her, too. Sigh. But, on the other hand, if I feel like someone is trying to push me through my "making friends" process too quickly, I shut down and back off.
Friendship is about giving and receiving. It's about trusting and spending time together, or doing things for one another - when time and space allow it - and it can't only be about the individual. It has to be a mutual relationship of trust, love, sharing, and respect.
Even with my boyfriends, if I don't feel like they're opening up to me emotionally, I withdraw, and the relationship doesn't progress.
One last thought, then I'll end this post: There's a group of friends in my area who get together frequently to eat out and play games. They're funny, and entertaining, and are always willing to try new things. After spending time with them, however, I always feel alone and discouraged. I finally put my finger on why it's this way: they are only interested in fleeting happiness for Number One. Everyone has problems with this occasionally, but when you get a large group of people together who really aren't interested in what anyone else thinks or feels or even in having good, wholesome fun, you end up with a lot of emptiness. It's impossible to feel satisified with relationships like this, and I wish I'd figured this out a lot earlier in life.
Anyway. Sorry for blabbing everyone's ears off. :-) (Or typing your eyes out. :-))
And now back to doing the illustrations for my book. :-) I'm really, really excited with how they're turning out!