Sometimes, I feel helpless.
I don’t understand how I could have a deep desire to create meaningful connections with all of my friends in one second and suddenly become washed with a profound wave of despondency in another second. And when I am in a state of melancholy, the only thought that passes my mind is to endure and live through the sadness.
There are plenty of aspects of my life that I cannot control. I cannot control what my interviewers think of me when they listen to me recite the same points I give to every other interviewer. I cannot control what types of friends and romantic partners enter and exit my life even when I consciously decide to allocate how I spend my time. And now, I cannot even control the set of thoughts and emotions that dictate my passing personality.
A couple years ago, I would have given everything to spend time with other people. I had been alone and without the friends I have now to offset my natural inclinations for feeling lonely. Back then, I had spent a great deal of time by myself because I did not have a choice otherwise; the options I have to spend my time now had simply been nonexistent. Now that I have been given the opportunities that I did not have before, why am I not cherishing my friends before I return to another period of my life when I am alone without friends to compensate?
Part of my motivations could certainly be traced to my attitudes towards impermanence. Friendships, like every other aspect of our lives, have an expiration date. Sometimes, there is a distinct line drawn that marks the end of a friendship. Perhaps it had been an argument that had no placating resolution. Perhaps it had been the intense awkwardness that follows a sexual encounter. Or perhaps, it just dies out with the passage of time.
And precisely because my friendships have a termination date that I value them. I value the time I spend with my friends because I understand that, at any moment, I could never speak with my friends ever again. And equipped with the knowledge that my friendships could all end within one moment to the next, I have become less inclined to pursue friendships that do not actively create happiness in my life.
One of my friends a while back had described her relationship with her friends as an implicit contract of companionship contingent on mutual growth. At the time, I harshly disagreed with her. It seemed so sterile, and the feelings I felt for my friends had been nothing but passionate. I used to believe that I truly loved my friends, that I would deliberately sacrifice parts of my life as a series of selfless acts in the name of love. I believed in the permanence of friendship. I believed in my friendships because they were worth believing in.
I’m not so sure anymore. I’m not sure of anything anymore but especially regarding my attitudes towards friendships. It has been more than two years since I have come to college, and within that time span, I have gained and lost many friends, as one should as they grow up. After all, losing friends is necessary for personal growth. I suppose my disillusionment has taken on the form of indifference, but how could I consider my friendships a part of my identity if I can wear my t-shirts longer than I can keep most of my friends?
Am I supposed to have faith in my friendships? Am I supposed to trust my feelings? I wish that I could allow myself to do so. But I feel as though my cynicism towards my own feelings has been the most insightful realization coming into adulthood. Just as I cannot predict how I will feel within moments next to each other, how can I trust my own feelings of intimacy? After all, I am merely experiencing a series of chemical reactions in my brain, and there seems to be something acutely unreal about associating my experiences to set of arbitrary hormones. And if I cannot trust my emotions, shouldn’t I trust my logic? If I cannot depend on my feelings to give me insight into how much my friendships to me, and if the uncertainty of the true value of friendship causes me significant amounts of suffering, then isn’t a better lifestyle to just not put value into my friendships?
I made some logical jumps, two assumptions that I could count. But unlike making logical jumps, I cannot will myself to jump the emotional hurdles I have created for myself. The overwhelming pointlessness of keeping friends scares me. Exhausts me. I can live my life with a bright flame, but how would I feel if there are no other flames to accompany me? Would it feel comforting that I can burn through my vitality without the warmth of others to accompany me? I suppose there is very little choice I have in terms of the people who come and go in my life, but it feels as if there is something profoundly wrong with my pattern of thinking.
So now, I can make the choice to spend time with other people who I may or may not speak to again for the rest of my life. There would be no way that I could know for certain. But in terms of the expected values I am operating on, I am approaching with the attitude that I am merely sharing time. I could spend time with others who will leave my life given enough time or I could spend time with myself who I know I will be with forever. I take a bit from those around me as well, and each person that leaves my life takes a little bit from me as well.
And now, as tired as I am, I can continue to let people come and go. I can continue to pursue social situations where I am constantly exposed to individuals fading in and out of existence. I can continue to expend my vitality in sharing conversations and experiences with others. I can continue to give and take. And give and take. And give and take. Until, I have nothing left to give, nothing left to take, and nothing left to live.
So, I suppose, I might pass on your party. Just for a bit.