it only takes one

Monday, April 13, 2009 2:28

I’m not sure if it’s just me, or if I’m just one of those people “doomed” to have atypical friendships and social circles. Actually, I wouldn’t consider them atypical; but they’re definitely not what any old Joe/Jane would expect to have to go through. Not all of this, anyway.

For starters, I’m not part of a stereotypical high school clique; or just any old clique per se. That’s probably because I’m not 1) preppy 2) popular 3) a cheerleader 4) uber-nerdy 5) uber-AZN (as they would refer to themselves) or 6) a musical hermit. I love having my cake and eating it as well; so I’m involved in a good mix of stuff and talk to a lot of people. Which is what they never really understand about me. -_- If I were to actually follow personalities on TV shows, I think I’d be pretty much an Inbetweener (reference to E4′s hit comedy series The Inbetweeners; a bunch of students not cool enough to be popular but not nerdy enough to be geeks.)

Moving on – except for some treasured few, I seem to have a notorious track record for not getting along with peers of my age/year group. Juniors and seniors are all right, and I’m (touch wood) brilliant with kids and adults. However, try as I may, people from my year group just don’t take a shine to me. This became a lot more evident when I went to England – and know what? It’s actually not my fault that we don’t get on; Mr Marshman (my houseparent) reckons it’s just a case of different intellectual levels (so sue me if I don’t feel like comparing Daniel Radcliffe with Jeremy Sumpter – go ahead if you will; I just don’t really want to participate per se, thanks.) Perhaps I just have to be a bit more patient – people change and grow up more during their late teenage years.

The final thing – which has also ended up being a source of jibes – is the fact that I get on better with lads than chicas. I won’t lie and say that it’s better to share certain things with members of your own sex – even though I hate stereotypes, most of the girls around me are complete b****es. When it comes to friendly banter, more often than not, it’s guys that I tend to have it with. And unsurprisingly, some the dudes I hang out with happen to be the people I go to with my light worries. I must admit I do stay away from the popular ones, though; they tend to be very jock-ish characters without the ability to sustain a convo.
Not to say that I don’t get along with girls full stop. My two oldest best friends are girls I’ve known since primary school who are 1) living miles away from me and 2) are of a totally different background compared to mine. One doesn’t speak English as her first language either.

So far, these are the sort of things that I’ve grown to get used to – which other people sometimes condemn as an “abnormal social life”. Hopefully you agree with me. There are, however, certain not-so-typical friendships I’ve experienced in my teen years; some of which I’m still trying to get a clue on.

All these “atypical” friendships have one thing in common – the internet. I’m going to, for comparison’s sake, take 2 cases – both of them guys, slightly older than yours truly. For privacy purposes, I’m going to use initials.

case one// design disease: circa 2006-early 2008
L and I were actually total strangers to each other who first got in contact by site-hopping. This was when I first started out in cyberspace as a total freshie to the webdesign world – apart from extensive knowledge of Photoshop shapes, I knew little else. Over time, however, we actually progressed from random encouraging comments to IMs on MSN Messenger, to short emails, and yes – to pretty long ones. L lived (I think he still lives) in California; miles away from my area. Didn’t stop us from having some very good banter, though; there was jokey stuff, and there was deep stuff.

Then all of a sudden, it disappeared. Just like that. It didn’t even slow down to a trickle, and there were no “I’m actually kinda busy with work” warnings. Only an abrupt cutoff.

Messages were left unanswered. Shout outs were cast aside. Email follow-ups ignored. I was trying to be considerate and spaced my get-in-touch-again attempts months within each other; but you don’t just drop a friend like hot cakes without a proper reason why.

Then I lost it. I got upset and wrote about it; no swear words, only just a wronged friend with a speared heart. Peers online sympathised and hoped for the best. He did get wind of what I wrote – oh yes. And guess what he did?

1) Posted derogatory comments about me behind my back – I quote, “*** likes b**bs!; she likes to get laid…online…” Which I found out about anyway.
2) Get his cousin involved. Long story.

The fact that I was not given any answers by he himself was the final straw. It took a while, but I slowly recovered. The little pang of hurt is still there; but it will heal entirely. In time.

It only takes one person, one derogatory comment and one minute to break another’s spirit.

case two// action-reaction: circa 2006-goodness knows when?
Apart from a 5-day holiday camp for teens, I’m not lying when I say that J and I have virtually no shared history at all. We got on brilliantly as team leaders in the camp; but then again, we got on well with everyone else. Camp ended with everyone as a tight-knit bunch promising to stay in touch no matter what.

Sadly, that didn’t happen. People got preoccupied or lazy. One by one, the contact between camp mates dried up. I don’t blame them for it; 5 days is not enough time to properly know someone and then decide whether you *actually* want to stay firm friends or not.

For some reason, however, J and I seemed to be the only ones who held on to that fragile link. I don’t know what it was that we talked about, but for all I know, we talked.

Still, what exactly do you talk about to someone you don’t really know? School – everyone’s going through it, big deal. Funny happenings at school? We don’t go to the same one; references would have passed over our heads. People? We didn’t know any other mutual friends apart from other campers. Superficial stuff like celeb gossip and all? Not really – he didn’t fancy it, and I don’t indulge in a lot of it either.We ended up with just deep topics to talk about – and surprisingly, J turned out to be very good with those.

For the awkward silences (predominantly on his end), there was 20 Qs – actually, more like taking it in turns to say random facts about ourselves, then discussing them. Facts included personal interests, talents, and random quirks.

The friendship wasn’t fail-safe, though. There was a period (nearly a year) where we didn’t correspond at all. Till today, I’m not entirely sure why we had that cool phase. Still, we got back in contact in 2008 and have still been corresponding; whether frequently or not. All via email, MSN, or Facebook.

I soon got word that he was planning on heading off to business school in the US come May/June 09. The frequency of our messages started to increase, and finally, he suggested that we meet up in person. After a couple of botched previous attempts, we *finally* saw each other again for the first time in 2 years at the end of 2008 – we went for a movie. And then there was another time just 2 weeks ago when he invited me to a drama workshop. Surprisingly, during face to face contact, he became a little more reserved and less chatty. I just put it down to awkwardness.

We both did, however, feel that something was off with the friendship. I for one wasn’t even sure where the friendship was going; we both could feel the “it’s-like-I-know-you-but-I-still-don’t” vibe. At one point, I even wondered why we still were friends (was it obligation?!) and if I should cease contact altogether. Because frankly, if we were only corresponding for kicks, there wasn’t much point.

So I swallowed my pride and, scared sh**less that I was, brought it up with him to discuss anyway. I told him everything – how I was unsure about the whole friendship, myself, and what he thought of it. He sat through my 15 minutes of attempting (and failing =P) to keep the situation/my thoughts concise. He still understood every word, and didn’t freak out like I thought he would (despite the fact that I’ve never opened myself that much to him before.)

And we worked out what was going on. I was actually worried that I had blown things by “over-analyzing”; but it turned out to be a lot better for the friendship. Also, the convo reminded me about the few and far between who appreciated me for who I am (and will continue to be.) Never before have I received encouragement and compliments from a friend that have meant as much to me — I guess if you grow up being ostracised pretty much all your life, you value kindness a lot more when it comes by.

It also only takes one person, one kind word, and one bit of faith to restore another’s confidence.

L and J. Both unconventional friendships. Both took one moment in time and did just one thing. Both yielded different outcomes.

It only takes one person – one moment – and one act to make a difference. What act you want to do, however, is up to you.

Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.