I was feeling people-weary and in serious need of a nap after a few weeks of busyness. Even this meet-up had been delayed by weeks (weeks!) of missed schedulings and packed agendas, but Mary sought me out and even treated me to a dinner — work had run late and I was coming to 7 pm on an empty stomach.
The tiredness, combined with our shared — though light — history, made me especially honest and vulnerable with myself on this evening. I’ve known Mary for a long time now, though never closely. I munched and aired all the struggly thoughts I’d been (not) working through, and she was patient and gracious to listen.
About friendships. About disappointment. About feeling like I’m regressing socially, though society tells me I am progressing just fine (“wait, how do I make friends again?”).
About small talk and the dread of it on Sunday mornings.
About writing. And feeling like I was doing a lot, at the expense of thinking a lot. Cause it does feel like a zero-sum game. Time is limited; so am I. This is especially so for time belonging to me.
She responded with wisdom that made me think that even this lil sandwich-and-tea meeting — such a small little blip in the grand scheme of everyone, everywhere — had been preordained. Made me think that she’s been where I am and that she’s stepped forward into betterness. Made me think: “There’s hope for me, too, then!”
She heard my woes about friendships and affirmed, yes, that the conclusion shouldn’t be a deflated, disappointed one. There’s more to hope for there. We were made to live in community for a reason, and friendships are a huge part of that. Shifting, changing, sure, but not disappointing.
She agreed about the social regression and the small-talk dread and the limitedness of time and energy. And with her agreement, helped me feel not so alone, at least.
She said that she had asked herself all these questions, too. And interestingly, the progress was found in asking even more questions. Sneakily similar to the ones before, but really crucially different.
- Instead of “what does it mean to be a good friend,” ask: “what can I do differently to be a better friend?”
- Instead of “when will I finally feel comfortable and belong-y here,” ask: “how can I better serve the people of my community and love them first?”
- Instead of “why must I make so much small talk in life,” remember: “small talk is the juice and the glue of the every-day Wednesdays.”
It’s all about slight shifts in perspective. I hadn’t been all that off track. The tiniest pivot will catch different glimpses of light, display different hues, make different shapes.
Thank you, Mary unni. Yeah, it feels right to call you “unni” at the end of this dinner and this post.