"A friend is one who knows you and love you just the same." Elbert Hubbard

Our ability to recall some version of our most devastating life moments is one of the hallmarks of the human experience. The speed with which I can be transported back to all the awkwardness, embarrassment, and rejection is uncanny. I always feel like I have moved past things that have long happened, and yet all it takes is a reminder from someone in the present. I have come to realize that much of my life has been dictated by this incessant need to be perfect, to show up perfectly, to be perfect for other people. Even in my friendships perfectionism has reared its ugly head. I feel like I have to win. I have to be the best - friend who ever did live. I have to be amazing - to go above and beyond. I have to be everything, and good at it all. Why do I still feel like I am constantly trying to prove my worth to my friends? Why do I see myself still as the awkward social outcast that didn't quite fit in? Why am I afraid people are going to drop me? I want to know why I care about other people liking me so much, and how much effort I feel like I need to put in to make sure they do. It's not normal. It's not quite rational. It's this dissonance between how I imagine other people to see versus how I see myself. It's imperfect, and why am I not okay with that?

What I have to come to realize is that while I can bring up lifetimes of embarrassment, I struggle to think of any times that other people were embarrassing. Why is that? People don't notice as much as I imagine them to, and/or people don't care. We're all awkward, weird, and not always logical. As much time as I spend in my head agonizing over how I could have been better, funnier, kinder, more useful, etc. I could be just living and being a person. Nobody cares. And yet, I still think about how if I'm useful to people, if I can be exceptional, if I can stand out - that they'll see my value, that they'll care about me, and that they'll love me. That's not how love works. People should not love us for our utilitarianism, but for who we are. Friendship is not about perfection but rather love through imperfection. Friendship has no purpose - it is the purpose. Friendship is not efficiency, effort, or output; friendship is connection, presence, and authenticity. 

I am someone who preaches about intentionality. Being purposeful is more often that not a good thing. I am understanding now that hyper-intentionality is not. Friendships take effort, but they are not about effort. The opposite of effortful is not effortless - effort describes our perspective on how effort is being exerted. To some carving out time for others can seem effortful, difficult, challenging, and to others that can seem effortless, easy, commonplace. Easy does not mean that the work is not hard but that we are equipped, in the right mindset, and engaged in doing said work. Easy means the work might feel restorative instead of taxing. Friendship much like pretty much everything is "work" but it should not always feel like it. I think about the friends that just fall in sync with me. They're just there, and feel like they have long been there. They appear to understand, and there is a candor between us that's present. I have other friends that take what feels like serious effort. I retype texts, hesitate to say what I'm thinking, and worry about how they see me. I am realizing that it's mostly on me. That's my vantage point, my insecurity, and myself overthinking. Friendships go both ways, but somethings there's an asymmetry that explains why some people don't see us as friends the way that we see them. That unbalanced relationship makes one feel unappreciated, and the other feel potentially overwhelmed or just plain aloof. Imperfection is naming the issue, and working to address it, or let it go. 

To my effortful friends - it's not about me; and then again, yeah, it is about me. It's how I see myself, and how I see our relationship. I know so many people who are constantly frustrated, angry, and disappointed with basically everyone else in their lives because they feel like others aren't trying. It's people not appreciating them. It's people not acknowledging all their effort, time, and energy they put in. It's other's not reciprocating. That's all valid. AND if we don't shift our viewpoint, we will live a life of rage, loneliness, and disheartening. Stop centering you. Stop thinking everything is about you. I promise is is not. People are not always responding to us and what we do. Most of the time, their behavior is about them, and what they're experiencing. Calm down, let go, and chill. Things matter less than we think. Why do other people's seeming disengagement with us both us so much? Why do we see our relationships as transactional? Why are we so mad, passive-aggressive, rude about it? 

What if people are giving their best, most of the time? What if we are the ones not acknowledging their effort? What if their effort shows up differently than ours, and that's why we don't recognize it? Take a second to think about people and what you can appreciate about them. How do they communicate, act, or show up for you that you love? Say that. Meditate on that. Validate that. Sometimes we negate other people's tries as invalid because it's not how we show up. Again it's not about us, and right there it is us brushing off people. Now apply that to when others do it to us, and don't seem to appreciate us and how we show up. It's infuriating, right? Much of our frustration is miscommunication. Cut off culture is useful - toxic people exist, and need to be removed from our vicinity - but it can result in self-induced solitude if taken too far. Not everyone is harmful to us. Not everyone needs to be let go. Give grace to others to try, and tell them explicitly what you need or want from them. Give yourself to try less. Tell them what you're able to do, and set boundaries. Giving the entirety of yourself to other people reserves none of you for you

Imperfection is scary because it's unfamiliar. I am just learning now, as a full adult, about it, and what it can be for me. I am striving to embrace it and am finding it's not so scary after all. In fact, it's freeing. I don't have to care so much all the time. I don't have to do the absolute most. I don't have to make sure everything and everyone are okay. It's not my job to save the world. It's not my job to save anyone else. It's barely my job to save me. And why saving? From what or from whom? I get to be imperfectly me, and to let go. To calm down, to move on, and to be carefree. I get to stop worrying about other people, how they feel about me, and why. I get to just be, and to be for me. I get to stop assigning myself value based on how other people experience me. People are imperfect, and that's perfectly fine. People rarely express how they feel, especially about other people - namely when it's good. People are terrible at telling you their truths about you. People are bad at recognizing your significance in their lives. And, and, and, we have to know we matter, we're enough, we're okay with or without that. What if we were content with just being instead of being for others? That's imperfection. X


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