I understand why people watch the show Friends. At least, I think I do. It’s because people are lonely. And they want friends. And it just happens that the show Friends is about having friends.
More than anything, the show Friends represents an aesthetic. It is the aesthetic of having friends and living life together with those friends at a time in your life full of turbulence and uncertainty. Namely, your twenties. It is a principle that I never have understood until now. But, being in my twenties, naturally, illuminates some truths about life in your twenties. Above all, this is a time that requires some degree of certainty when the rest of the world is uncertain. Merely a couple of weeks ago, I had absolutely no idea what type of job I would have for the next couple years of my life. To say that it was anxiety-inducing would be quite an understatement.
But, here I am, emerged at the end of the tunnel, with one less anxiety. But, as per usual, the lack of anxiety in my life reminds me how sad I am, and I become sad again. It is quite a vicious cycle.
Friends, to me, represents an impossibility. The appeal of the show is the claim that there is some part of New York that has a group of friends that hangs out regularly and experiences the turbulence of post-adolescence together. However, this ideal, to me, has always been an ideal. The appeal of the show is a reassurance that such a lifestyle exists, but the more I progress through my twenties, the more I become convinced that such a life does not exist. I would have friends like I do now, I would hope. But, the concept of having a group of friends that continuously spends time together regardless of the uncertainties that plague modern life… that, to me, is an impossibility that people do not want to believe. Just as people do not want to accept the structural problems of the society they live in, they do not want to accept the inevitability of solitude in modern life.
What is life going to look like in my twenties? At least, the twenties that are after my graduation. To be honest, it is a question I haven’t thought about much. Why would I be concerned about the future when I have so much to concern myself with the present, especially in something that I have so little control over? Who stays in my life and who goes? These questions used to concern me so much, but it is quite surprising how some drivers of anxiety in some periods of my life could be so insignificant later on in my life. I wonder what parts of my college life had made me become this way. I know much of the rationale, but what about the parts that I cannot pinpoint? There is so much difference that has followed me, but all I can feel is the indifference that remains.
All of my life, I feel as if I had been searching for this idea of a group of friends that I would be completely comfortable with, that would allow me to thrive with the idea of me that is truly me. But, the longer I age, the more it seems that this idea is an impossibility. There does not exist an idea of me that would be accepted by other people, and it is at this point that I have largely given up the search. This was not a life that is destined for me. Realistically, I have three types of people in my life: two best friends, exes, and two-hour brunch friends. Nowhere in there is the concept of a group of friends, and I don’t expect that I ever will. The only source of consistency I can expect is from my exes.
I have a simple philosophy of friendship: if you have a friend, and if you don’t travel with them or sleep with them, then you pretty much didn’t have a friend at all. It was a realization that came to me while playing this card game version of Truth or Dare at Queen and Rook, except with only truths.
I speak, of course, only for myself. I can only speak for myself, but that summarizes what I have learned about friendship over the past three years as an undergraduate in college. Friends come, friends go. This, I have already established in much of my writing. But, in terms of assigning value to friendship, it seems that I can only assign it in retrospect. It is only once I have lost a friendship can I assign value to it. Naturally, this would mean that I tend to assign value retroactively based on post-humous sentiment. And, in terms of the friendships over the years, it seems that I only remember those that have had a significant traveling or sexual experience.
Sometimes, I don’t know if I’m just being pragmatic or if I’m just being stupid. In terms of my friendships with girls, it usually approaches a point that determines the future of the friendship. After a certain level of intimacy is achieved, either we have sex and form a sexual connection, or the intimacy fades over time into nothingness. That is it; there is no alternative to this paradigm. With guys, I can’t even begin to approach the same level of intimacy as that I share with girls. And so, in terms of my connections that exist somewhere in the middle, I’m not sure if I am even willing to attempt to continue a friendship when there is no possibility of sexual connection.
Is that misogynistic of me? Instinctually, I would say yes. At least, that is the response that I have been conditioned to have. But, I am having trouble actually convincing myself that. If I had been born another sex, I probably would feel something similar. There is just something so real about sexual connection that cannot be replicated through any other medium. And so, when I shy away from those friendships that have had their dynamic established, is there a point in even vying for a future? There is only one source of consistency in my life, and that is my exes. What is the point of accumulating two-hour brunch friends when I can recognize their relative unimportance in my life? There is only one source of certainty.
What point is there to write — and to hope — that this would change? I noticed that I have not written as much recently as I have in the past. There’s a part of me that just no longer believes that there is a point in doing so. On one hand, there is the artistic redemption attitude that would allow me to redeem the tragic experiences of my life by writing about them in this contemporary form of a journal. But then, this past semester has revealed to me that this is impossible and that I should stop attempting to do so. There are so many better ways to use my time, but the main source of conflict is whether I have the will to do so. I have been acquainted with this idea recently that I simply do not have the capabilities to realize the energy behind my motivations.
The other day, when I was sitting in my OIDD lecture, I could not will myself to finish my in-class assignment because I just felt so numb. I was simply staring at the screen, hoping that this will to do anything would return to me, but it never did. It is a feeling that I have felt all my life, but it was only recently that I was able to articulate it. The lack of willingness to do anything. It is convenient that this is the time that I am no longer pre-occupied with work (or perhaps it is the cause itself?). It is also convenient that The Office is still on Netflix. And so, here I am, watching The Office in my bed to the pulsating sounds of “Titanium” by David Guetta playing at a darty outside my house.
My attitudes towards it all have changed quite a bit over the past year. I remember, when I was at a friend’s place outside another darty that had been happening coming into my junior year, there was the pang of envy that had arisen. But now, I no longer feel that envy. There is no intense emotion that arises within me. There is no anger towards the exclusivity or sadness towards my inability to be happy. There is just me, and the time that seems to pass by without regard to me. Between the time of then and now, I have accepted my fate in full, including all of its sadness.
The world had always been indifferent. But, as I reflect on my other years in college, it seems to be a lot more indifferent now than it had been in the past. Is it the universe changing, or is it just me? This cycle of self-flagellation that I always impose on myself.