187. Forced Relationships

You grew up with him. He lived on your block. His mama used to drop you off at school sometimes. You attended sleepovers at his house. Played video games. Graduated high school together.

Photo credit: hepingting (via flickr)

Photo credit: hepingting (via flickr)

Then, you both grew older and eventually grew apart. The moment you both tried to reunite, it was tough. You had nothing in common. The person was like a stranger. 

I've had these experiences many times before. One in particular sticks out in mind.

I took a 7 year hiatus from Facebook. Long story short, the second I logged back on, I was bombarded with all kinds of messages from people in my past. Exes. Teachers. Former co-workers. Long lost relatives. 

Then, there was the childhood friend. We knew each other throughout grade school, but when we both went to college the friendship basically stalled. Ended is the better word. We didn't keep in contact at all.

So, when we see each others' names on Facebook, we get all excited. Naturally, we want to get together to catch up. The funny thing about this reunion, though, was that it wasn't much of a reunion. All we talked about was memories -- reminiscing about quoting Martin episodes in school, crazy moments in the classroom, and who was doing what.

There was nothing meaningful in our conversation. Nothing sustainable I should say. 

This got me to thinking. If we look deeply into our contacts, we'll find that a lot of them are a byproduct of forced relationships. You can't choose your family; that's a forced relationship. You can't choose who your classmates are going to be in school; that's a forced relationship. You can't control who works in the cubicle next to you. Forced relationship. 

Am I somehow alluding to a potential friendship detox? No. I don't believe we should drop people because we have nothing in common. Surely we can at least be cordial. However, what I am saying is to pay close attention to whom you share your personal time and energy.

There are some people like co-workers or family members who I can tell there is nothing there between us except proximity and familiarity. That's it. There's nothing meaningful about our relationship.

For instance, there are some co-workers who I get along with great at school. After all, we have something in common to talk about -- students, administrators, planning, and curriculum. But, if we were to go to a setting outside of school, it would be awkward. (Trust me, it's happened before.) Here's an actual exchange:

Them: I can't wait for the next episode of [insert popular show here]. Did you catch it last week?

Me: Nope.

Them: What do you like to watch?

Me: I don't watch TV.

Them: Oh. 

Me: I read books though. There's this book I'm reading that's about [insert synopsis here].

Them: Girl, I don't read books

Me: [Inside of my mind, I'm shaking my head saying, "We can't hang, chile. Sorry."]

 

I know what you're thinking. I can hear Cher's voice from Clueless in my head right now: "That was way harsh, Tai." But, you know what, it's not.

I did used to watch a ton of TV as a 90s kid; not so much anymore.

I did used to watch a ton of TV as a 90s kid; not so much anymore.

 

We only have one life to live and only so much time. Why not spend it with people who challenge you, push you to greatness, inspire you to a higher dimension, stretch you, mutually respect and pour into you?

I don't know about you, but I don't just want to call people friend just because I've known them for so long on a surface-level. I want to call people friend because our spirits are kin and connected. 

I want meaningful relationships, not shallow ones that float above the surface, scared of being rocked into the deep. I am selective about how I spend my time, what I choose to discuss, and I refuse to feel guilty about having relationship standards. Again, I'm not saying to completely cut off people. I'm saying to understand what real friendship looks like. Purposeful, uplifting, mutual, respectful, understanding. 

Let's dig deeper into our contact list, shall we?