Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

Ferocity

Pursuit of happiness, turbo mode, etc

Of the many cringe things I do, listening to motivational speeches is one of them.

I’m unsure of why this area of content is mostly owned by straight men. I find myself scanning the subtitles and descriptions quickly to make sure I don’t find any suspect terminology. Will Smith is usually a safe bet, and his voice is comforting.

When I need something softer, I listen to the guided meditation on my astrology app. Sometimes, I need to hear other people say that I am capable because telling myself this gets old. I know I can do hard things, but what about uncomfortable things?

I’ve spent the entire weekend socializing. I tried to remain as present as I could. When I’m faced with something that zaps me of my energy, I tend to disassociate. Withdrawing into myself helps me accomplish hard things since I’m not fully present for them. But this time, I wanted to try to remain there.

A friend was visiting from out of town. As I was waiting to leave, mindlessly watching TV, I started to cry. I felt so ungrateful.

My problem is that I want a small group of friends. People I can hit up regularly to go out with or stay in and watch a movie. Besides cultivating this over time from forced proximity like work or school, I don’t know how other people do this. I’m still fairly new to this city, and one of those years was spent quarantined. So when I’m really beating myself up about a lack of close friendships, I try to remember this and give myself a break.

The thing is, I have friends.

But, for specific purposes.

Friends to watch a new anime series together. Friends to go thriving with. A friend when I need a body next to me while I go out to dance. Collabtive friends. etc. But I don’t have a constant friendship that checks multiple boxes.

I’ve never been the kind of person to lose themselves so fully in a relationship, that I neglected my friendships in favor of my partner’s company. I suppose I was always aware of the feeling that one person couldn’t check all of my boxes, so I sought out fulfilling friendships to bring in the other exciting parts of life. When I dated men who didn’t have friends or didn’t try to make them, I felt burdened and guilty when I hung out with my friends without him. After our breakup, he pursued meetup groups and eventually found a core group of friends to go out with. I didn’t understand why he didn’t do so before. I don’t want to be anyone’s reason to not seek out a fulfilling life because they have me in it.

In Milwaukee, my close friendships formed out of working together. We spent almost every weekend together during and after we all left the same coffee shop. I realize that this was the happiest time in my life. Even when I was single or nearing the end of my relationship, this time in my life when I had people to hang out with regularly was when I felt the most at peace.

There are so many things I’ve pursued ferociously until I’ve gotten them: A job out of college, getting my writing published, coming out, and an art show. All of these things are easy to obtain because they are static — they aren’t living, breathing people with ideas and wants and complexities.

I tucked away the parts of myself this weekend that demanded quiet and familiarity. The parts of myself that have worked hard to accept solitude. Because they don’t serve me well anymore. I went to a 20s and 30s meetup group for a night of UNO. I told myself I would interact with people only if it felt good. I forget the girl’s name but she was one of few who showed up. The original venue had a mix-up, and we all ended up walking to a neighborhood bar. I started panicking. It was small. and there were at least ten of us trying to cram around three small pub tables for a game of cards.

I left after two rounds. I couldn’t get comfortable that way. But not before eagerly signing up to do a round of karaoke. If I couldn’t stay because of my anxiety, at least I could leave an impression.

It’s still hard to know when I’m acting or when I’m being sincere.

Everything about making friends as an adult comes back to this one point: You have to keep putting yourself out there. I think they should also add: Don’t go with any expectation except to have a good story for later. With this thinking, I decided to go to a queer dance party by myself. I know I would see people I knew there although I wouldn’t be hanging out with them. This increased my anxiety a bit. Would these people that know me think I was a loser for showing up alone?
I have these thoughts, and then I drown them out with one of my mantras:

When I am older and cannot get around as easily as I can now, will I be more grateful that I stayed at home alone to avoid people thinking whatever they wanted about me, or would I enjoy doing whatever I want more?

And reader, I do whatever I want.

Arriving and waiting 30 minutes for a drink was the hardest part. The second hardest was saying hi to the people I knew. I want to create an open atmosphere. One that says: I see you and it’s cool and I’m here if you want to chat. I closed my tab immediately after getting drinks and a bottle of water. I made it harder for myself to overindulge and it worked. Heading to the dance floor, I smooshed myself into the crowd and just let go. I didn’t have to do or be anything but someone there to enjoy the music. Going out alone as a woman is tricky but not impossible. When I was warmed up, I turned to the girl who was standing off to the side beside me, wondering if she was alone too.

“I like your outfit.”

That was all it took-me being willing to just start talking to people. I feel like it’s easier to face rejection in all forms in queer spaces. I tried to feel out other people and groups in the crowd-who wouldn’t mind if I started chatting to them and joined their group? I was ok with being alone if I had to, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t still going to try.
I feel awful forgetting her name, but shouting things while drunk isn’t the best way to communicate. I danced with her and her friend group for the majority of the night. It felt good to not be completley alone. The best thing about this event is that it ends around 10pm. For a sunday, it’s the perfect time.

I still feel like I’m buzzing from the weekend. I have a long week of vacation to look forward to, but I want to try to put down as many friendship seeds as I can, trying to practice feeling rejection by hitting up the few people I do know to hangout and being ok with their response. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I can do hard things, especially if they will make me happy.

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