09 November 2011

My Co-Stars.

I am an extraordinarily social person. Drop me in a group of Chinese men and I am confident I can find a way to assimilate. However, I always connected being well-adjusted to having loads of friends. This is not the case. Having loads of friends can be a detriment to one's own well-being, especially if one is as much of a people-pleaser as I am. I am always trying to accommodate everyone else's wants, trying to make sure they don't have to put themselves out for me. I was so worried I'd "lose friends" if I wasn't responsive to their text, attend their Facebook event, wish them a Happy Birthday, take them out for coffee when we said we should catch up, call them on the anniversary of their Broadway debut... I was spread as thin as a dollop of low-fat cream cheese on a loaf of bread. I needed to find a way to simplify my friend group, but how could I pick and choose?!  Oh God, did I have to break-up with them?

I decided the easiest thing to do was to deactivate my Facebook. I toyed with the decision for an embarrassingly long time, asking myself, Should I warn people? Let them know I'm unavailable via Facebook but they can reach me on my cell or email? No! I decided. The best way was to do it cold turkey. So I woke up one day, clicked a few links, dismissed a few intimidating, "ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO LEAVE?" boxes, and I was finished. 

I felt like a lead weight had been lifted from my mind. I tried very hard not to think about Facebook, busying myself with other things. I spent a lot of time with my mom and grandmother. I replied to text messages from Rubina, Star, Kiki, and Missy. I studied for the LSAT. I had a boyfriend. I emailed my friends in New York. I ran into people and actually had something to catch up with them about because the Newsfeed hadn't already apprised me of their goings-on. Something wonderful had occurred.

I became autonomous. My life became less complicated, more productive, and I was able to have a life without Facebook. Amidst all those liberating benefits, the people I truly enjoyed stayed in my life in a more substantial way, and the tertiary people fell away without their even noticing. If they missed me I received a phone call and we caught up. It was just that simple.

Rather than having a net of acquaintances as before, now I am comfortable with having a few folks who know me very well. I am still surrounded by fabulous people with whom I am honored to know, but I look at them as cameos in my movie. They are all people with lovely qualities who add a little bit to my life every time I see them. And sometimes those five-minutes of screen time can turn into a recurring role, as is the case with my new friend Denver.

But it is my friends who are my co-stars. They make me and my movie more focused. I am still a social person, but I use the word "friend" with more dignity now. I never knew how difficult it is maintaining a friendship, but I am grateful building stronger bonds with the select people I call my confidants. I have seen what can happen to people who rely solely on work-mates and Facebook to fulfill their crony quota. There are no pillars of support in those kinds of relationships. There will always be moments in our lives that reach rock bottom, and what would we do without those friends who love us more than they love their families? It is a sad reality when your status update is the first to receive any news in your life.

I have since reactivated my Facebook, but it has a lot more stipulations. Most of my photos are private and I don't feel the urge to update, tag, or reply. Facebook is a unifying phenomenon and it serves a place in my life. The difference is that now the number of friends I have on Facebook is not how I  gauge the people in my tribe; most of them are classmates and coworkers. I needed that break from my online relationship to understand what having a friend really means. I would fight for them, cry for them, and go anywhere to celebrate with them. But my friends do not define me or my actions-- we are all too unique from one another to have that be the case. I am the leading lady of my life and my friends are my supporting characters.

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