I’m bad about making friends.
This sounds insane, but it’s true. I have a lot of friends. I’m blessed with awesome people in my life. But I don’t trust newbies, I don’t like personal conversations with people I don’t know and I keep a tight circle on many things. The most amazing person can walk up and want to be my friend and I just glare at them with a sort of righteous indignation that leads me to give off the appearance of being…well, intimidating.
I’m not intimidating.
When I was a child (eight, nine, ten? not sure), a new girl moved in across the street. That girl is now a woman that reads this blog regularly and provides amazing commentary both here and in real life. (As if this were fiction…) But as she walked around across the street on the sidewalk with the biggest puppy dog eyes as we played basketball in my driveway, I stood firm. I wasn’t going over there first. Much to my concurrent dismay and future elation, I didn’t have to…our friend did it for me and one of the longest friendships I’ve had began.
I was an ass at first, I’ll admit it. But I think she’s since forgiven me for it. Or at least has moved on beyond it.
The other night, I stayed up far too late watching Wendy Davis kick major ass in the Texas State Senate. This is the kind of thing I geek out about. And as my Twitter and Facebook feeds exploded in support for this woman and her colleagues who were on the right side of history about women’s health, I realized that despite being so distrusting in person, I have made a really decent community of people around me. Yes, I was proud of Wendy and Leticia and all of the other Texas State Senators who made a real tangible difference in the world. But I was also really happy for myself that I was finally surrounded by people who felt the same way…who were fighting the fight along with me.
This isn’t the first time this has happened in the past couple of years. My life with infertility hasn’t been easy, but it led me to creating a community–mostly online–that has been supportive beyond belief. I have the ability as an introvert to say things that I’d never say in person about my life and the means by which to find support for those issues. That is, quite frankly, huge.
When a study came out a few weeks ago stating that people who use Facebook are narcissists (a problematic study from a design standpoint all the way from hypothesis to findings), I took issue with it. I have a warped view of myself, but we all do. I don’t engage in social media as a way to reflect myself. I use it to find a community of like minded people that can have conversations about things like Wendy Davis, like the use of the word “herstory” or about IVF and infertility. Is it narcissistic to make friends and find support? When do we cross the line between not having enough self-esteem into narcissism because I missed the middle ground.
My heart swelled when I woke up the next morning, having fallen asleep despite best efforts before the matter was settled, and found the internet ablaze with love for Wendy Davis. My spirit soared when I saw my Facebook and Twitter feeds go nuts over SCOTUS making the right decisions on same-sex marriage. That isn’t narcissism. That’s finding a community. That’s what the internet does when it works as it should. That’s what this blog has done for me. And I hope it’s done that to some extent for you as well.
I still have problems even with closer friends in person sometimes. It’s part of my anxiety that I have to work through. But talking with people online makes me that much more likely to hang out with them in person and form a community of support for all of us.
Thank god I got pulled into a friendship in my childhood that has been so lasting and intelligent as the one with Megg. And thank god the internet allows me to throw myself out there in ways that I wouldn’t do alone. And with this freedom from the confines of my body and verbal words, I find myself free to support others on their journey like others have supported me. There’s great joy to be had in building a community of support for people, mostly women and others who have been told to shut up by society and take it.
If that’s not the antithesis of narcissism, then I’m not sure what is.