Article by Wendy McCance
I was having a talk the other day with my oldest daughter about friendships. My daughter has been frustrated since beginning college because she is having trouble finding people she would be interested in being friends with.
Just to back up for a minute, my daughter makes friends easily, but is picky about who she wants to spend her time with. I hadn’t realized how similar she was to me in this aspect until we began this discussion.
My daughter, like me, tends to love her own company more than that of others. She is struggling because she wants to be more social, but is often disappointed when she hangs out with friends. She tends to get frustrated by playing the counselor to friends who seem to always have some drama in their life or are getting into things that she is not interested in having anything to do with (partying for example).
The bottom line is that once she comes home from spending time with another, she feels that she would have had more fun hanging out on her own instead of spending that time with a friend. I know what she is trying to express first hand.
Like my daughter, I am looking to connect with people who would inspire me. I want to surround myself with people I can look up to and wish to learn something from. Every now and then, I will meet someone who I get excited about because I feel like I will be intellectually stimulated by their presence. If they are a little intimidating, even better.
A few months back, I had met a person I was really looking to get to know better. We got an opportunity to spend some time together after a meeting. I found this person to be quite a nice person, but spent the time we had together talking about the drama that had challenged them in their life. It could have been an eye-opening discussion except, they were not over what had occurred and sounded more like a wounded bird than a strong survivor. I became the audience to their speech on having a rough life.
I came out of that time shared with this new friend disillusioned and ultimately disappointed. I have had my share of rough times, but I wasn’t going to sit there and rehash my bad moments. I wanted to share uplifting stories and walk away feeling that if anything, there was a bond based on what we could both bring to the table to inspire each other.
There must be some signal I put out there. It’s the same exasperated feeling my daughter is having. We both tend to fall into the role of nurturer and get little out of these relationships that are formed. We are not looking for the people with the broken spirit, yet that is what tends to appear in front of us. Supporting others is fine, and can feel quite good, but sometimes it would be nice to feel like you are the one learning and gaining insight. If I could walk away from an outing with a friend with a bounce in my step from the incredible, enlightened conversation we just had, I would be on top of the world.
I often wonder if other people feel the same way. Are people burnt out on feeling like the caregiver? Do other people realize that they enjoy their own company better than hanging out with those around them because they feel they get nothing but exhaustion and might need a nap from mingling with others?
My daughter has been focusing on putting her effort into taking classes, joining groups and volunteering. Her hope is to find like-minded people in the places where she already has a strong interest.
I think she is handling her frustration in a good way. She is being proactive about changing her circumstances by putting herself out there and going after what thrills her.
My curiosity and question for you is this, Do you feel inspired by the people who surround you, or are you feeling burnt out by what tends to feel like a one-sided friendship?
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