Making Friends as an Introvert

Shall I jump from one semi-angsty topic to another? I think I should so for this post I want to talk about how difficult it is to make friends when you’re an adult.

This week one of my friends and coworkers left Pullman to work in Eugene, Oregon. Of course I’m thrilled for her and wish her all the best in her new adventure, but I’ll miss her. Over the last year we’d become very close and I could count on her for spontaneous coffee runs at work and after work happy hour parties. Now she’s gone. What do I do now?

I, of course, have other friends here in Pullman, but her leaving has made me think about how hard it is to make friends as an adult. A majority of my friends are through work because I am pretty much forced to spend forty hours a week in the same hallway they’re in. So what about outside of work? Can I just go up to someone and decide “you’re my friend now”?

I wish. There are so many societal rules about what’s okay and what’s not okay and what friendships should look like, and they drive me nuts. I can’t do this because it’s creepy and you have to keep work and personal life separate. Blah, blah, blah…

As an adult I also feel like I’m saddled with a lot more self-doubt. Every time I meet a new person, especially at work, I’m worried about making a good impression. Basically, my entire life is spent wondering when I can let the crazy out. Will they find my tabletop gaming hobby cute or weird? Should I tell them my reading consists of Stephen King novels and slasher fiction? I want them to like me, dammit! How do I make them like me?

Friendship shouldn’t be this hard!

Also, as an introvert, meeting new people is impossible. A majority of my close friends I’ve either met through work or through my husband because he’s an extrovert. If I want to make friends on my own I have to go out and meet people and that just sounds unpleasant. I want all the benefits of friendship like trust and companionship without the awkward getting-to-know-each-other phase.

My introverted-ness also means maintaining friendships is really hard. I’m just not a very social person so maintaining the friendships I have in Pullman is already hard enough. Maintaining the friendships back in Vancouver or from college is pretty much impossible!

I’ve only ever actively ended a few friendships. Most of the other ones fizzled out because we physically moved away from each other. I’m not trying to ignore them, but unless I see them on a day-to-day basis, they’re just not on my mind. I know that sounds horrible and I don’t know how to stop myself. When did being a low-maintenance person become a burden? Oh, that’s right, when adulthood struck.

I feel like as an adult there’s a certain idea of what being friends means. It no longer means people that you get along with and talk with. It means people you go out for coffee with and text on a regular basis and actively go out of your way to make plans with. Honestly, that’s not who I am. I’m an introvert, a home body by default, and I would rather spend an evening reading or watching Netflix than going out for coffee, so where do I find the motivation to plan these outings? Oh, that’s right. My friends do it for me.

What I really enjoy is friendship that doesn’t have specific expectations. A friend in my mind is someone I get along with and have fun with and if I don’t see them for a few weeks, that’s fine. We’ll pick up where we left off when we reconnect. I also like friends who are as introverted and laid back as I am. One of my best friends will just show up at my apartment and let himself in so we can watch TV. I only see another one of my best friends every other week and we can hang like nothing happened. My third best friend also likes Netflixs and we’ll share what we’re watching via Snapchat. It’s no big deal. No activity needed.

Sorry if this post is a little jumbled. This has been on my mind for a while and it’s something that I struggle with. Thankfully, as an adult, I also realize that having a handful of really close friends is way better than having a wide net of casual acquaintances. I also realize that making friends through work and through my husband are nothing to be ashamed of, as long as those people make me happy. Yeah, it sucks when I meet cool people and have no idea how to turn out casual meetings into a full-blown friendship, but that’s okay. I still have a lot of love in my life.

-EMS

The Sad Ferret Diary

Today, I thought I would share an excerpt from the diary of my ferret, Crush. I would also share some from his brother, Bandit, but Bandit is much better at hiding his diary.

Dear Diary,

Today, I spent four hours scratching at the bottom of my cage in an attempt to dig a hole. It has been 147 days since I began this endeavor, and the floor has not even begun to wear. I am tired, but I will persevere. I must find a way to freedom for my brother and I. I must.

Dear Diary,

I awoke last night from a terrifying dream. Doors were opening and closing all around me and I could not keep track of my humans. Despite all of my attempts to rip through the door, I could not. I woke up, afraid and sought out my brother. I laid across him, my butt on his face, as per protocol, and fell back to sleep. I hope the doors remain open in my future dreams.

Dear Diary,

The humans let me out today, but would not let me poop in the corner behind the arm chair. I tried and tried and tried, but they would pick me up and put me back into our box of coarse sand. They do not seem to understand my work, my art. I can only express myself by pooping in the shadows, and they continue to oppress my creativity. This place is hell.

Dear Diary,

I was out of the cage with my brother and I had climbed onto the sofa, looking for crumbs to eat or soda cans to knock over. Instead, I was very rudely booped with a pillow. I danced around in anger, attempting to regain my honor, but the human just found it cute and booped me again. When will I be taken seriously? When? Can’t I just have a little respect?

Dear Diary,

Today I found a tasty tidbit on the floor of the kitchen. I believe it was burnt cheese and it was delicious, at least it was until the human found me. He grabbed me and stole it right from my jaws. How dare he! I have never felt so disrespected. It was my cheese! Mine!

Dear Diary,

My dearest brother and I were playing today. We wrestled and rolled around on the carpet. It was so much fun! We found this wonderful black box and danced around inside of it. Suddenly, the box shifted and toppled over on us. It was dark and we wriggled around, desperate to be free of the awful trap. Eventually, the lady human heard up and freed us. She laughed at us. Why is she so rude?

Dear Diary,

The humans are becoming wise to our tricks. They will often pick us up and force cuddles upon us, but as you know we have lots of important ferret things to do. Sometimes, if I am very clever, I can poop behind something without being noticed! Huzzah! But today was not one of those days. When we are held captive and cannot wiggle free, we will go limp and slide out of their grasp. It can sometimes be painful, landing on the hard ground, but I must say the tactic is very useful. Or at least it was. The lady and man human have realized our tricks and cradle our backsides, preventing escape. Horrible. I cannot describe the indecency of it.

Dear Diary,

The man human rubbed delicious gel onto my belly. It tasted sweet, like berries, and I could not help but lick it off! When I was finished, I noticed my nails were shorter. Strange. Do you think the incidences are related?

Dear Diary,

I almost made it to the top of the bookshelf today. Only two more shelves to go!

Dear Diary,

The humans forgot to pick up one of the dirt pails before they let us out. I ran for it, determined to dig, dig, dig, dig it out and find the prizes I knew were hidden beneath. The lady human caught me and locked me in a room with strange plastic flooring, much like the kitchen. When I returned, the dirt buckets had vanished. I was disappointed to say the least.

 

Crush leads a very hard life.

-EMS

Tsunderes: Why we love them, and why we shouldn’t

Tsunderes.

In lay mans terms, a bitch who you tolerate and love because you know they’re soft and just putting up a front.

image

Meet Aisaka Taiga.  She’s the female lead in Toradora, one of my favorite romantic comedy animes.  She is, for many people, the quintessential tsundere.

When our male lead meets her she’s a total jerk to him.  She’s physically abusive and emotionally distant.  He stays by her side because he senses she needs someone and he tolerates her mood swings, her physical outbursts, and her seeming lack of empathy.

In reality this is often referred to as batter wife/husband syndrome.  Sometimes you could even say its Stockholm Syndrome.

But we learn to love her!  Her emotional walls start to come down, and we learn that her parents are distant and she feels abandoned by those who were supposed to care.  She cries over him when he’s hurt, she worries he’ll stop caring, and eventually she’s terrified to admit she cares deeply about him.

There is a very romantic notion that you can be the one to find a persons soft side.  That you can be the one to make them admit that they care and change them.  Watching anime, TV, or movies, we all swoon and get excited when they finally kiss and we realize it’s going to be happiness forever.

Except I dated these women in real life.  For many years I wasted years on girls that were cold to me.  Why would I date them if they were so cold, distant, and sometimes cruel?

I had a very romantic notion that I could be the one to find the persons soft side.  That I could make them admit they care and change them.  I would get excited when they would finally kiss me and I realized that it’ll be happiness forever.

The women in my life were intoxicating because they were really good at emotionally and even mentally manipulating me.  Whenever I started to come to my senses, they would show me their soft side and have me believe that if I can grit my teeth a little longer those walls will come down.

Its interesting to me that these characters are so beloved in fiction, but in reality you should absolutely not tolerate it.  Everyone is going to have their own reasons, but you should never sacrifice your dignity and self respect for someone who’s doing this.

The parallels are really interesting, and sometimes terrifying.  We think the abuse is cute in fiction, but what would you tell your friend if their partner was mean all the time and only sweet when they wanted something?  What would you tell them if you heard that they get physically violent?  Even if it’s only in small ways?

You’d tell them to turbo-dump them!

This idea that some people are denying or hiding their feelings permeates reality, too.  Ever seen a movie where one of the characters is into the other but that person is rejecting it?  And there’s tension and eventually one character spontaneously kisses the other, and they struggle for a second but give into it because they’ve been holding back?

That would never happen in real life.  If someone doesn’t like you they typically don’t like you.  Sexually assaulting them isn’t going to make them realize something.  If someone likes you, the exciting part about that is realizing that someone else feels the same.  You connect and talk all the time because you mutually like each other!

What would you tell me, dearest Emily, if I was like, “There is this cute girl at the office.  She doesn’t wanna get coffee with me.  I’m gonna surprise her in the elevator with a strong kiss.”

This happens in fiction, but it doesn’t happen the same way in life.  Maybe that’s why we like it so much.  We play fantasies out in our heads that can’t happen in real life.  It’s a place to escape to.  A place to dream about romantic situations that can’t or shouldn’t even really happen.  You have a crush?  Spend months doting upon them and someday they’ll realize they’ve loved you all along.  They are cold and distant, and you could be the one that pierces their heart and teaches them to love and trust again.

We love them because of what those characters represent, but you shouldn’t love them because there are people in real life who can hurt you because they can make you believe.

Don’t use a strong kiss to find out though or you’ll go to turbo-jail.

-DTM