People cope with their sadness and stress in a multitude of ways. Some intentionally fill their social calendars to the brim in order to constantly be around others, while others retreat into themselves.
I used to fall into the former, arranging endless hangouts with my friends to avoid being left alone with my thoughts. Over the last few years, however, my coping mechanism has evolved to the retreat.
For the past few years, I felt exhausted by my dissatisfaction. I found that the only way to reset myself each week is by getting that crucial time to myself. (that mental health is improving)
While I miss being part of a group of good friends and having more of a social life dearly, it takes a lot of energy for me to keep an open line of consistent communication with people.
When a good portion of your day is spent doing something that drains you, it becomes difficult to carve out ample time for the things you do enjoy doing among other responsibilities. The less time I had for these things, the less inspired and excited about things I became.
Oh the small talk…
When you aren’t doing many activities to feel inspired, it’s hard to find things to talk about with others. As an introvert, I despise small talk and forced conversation. The thought of seeing someone you haven’t seen in awhile while having to grasp at straws for conversation becomes sad and stressful. My lack of things to say is but a friendly reminder of how I’m doing few things that truly bring me joy.
Not to mention, I’ve reached an age where many people only seem to want to discuss one of three things: careers, marriage, and babies. Those are the go-to small topic conversations–none of which have a lot going on for me. Career is a big one that leads me to fake a smile and pretend I’m not completely lost when it comes to what would make me happy doing every day. I fake it because I don’t want others to pick up on my unhappiness, leading to yet another uncomfortable conversation.
When I don’t have anything to say the few times I do take the plunge and socialize, I often feel like the odd one out. I feel like the quiet one; the uninteresting one. The awkward feelings then make me feel like my friendship hasn’t been missed and has instead been replaced with bitterness at my constant lack of effort.
That wasn’t the plan!
Last minute plans and changes of plans can be my worst nightmare. It can take days of mental preparation before I feel ready to go out and talk to people I don’t see every day. This is why I say no to invitations that are not well planned in advance. It is not because I don’t want to spend time with you, but because my tired soul has become less adaptable than I would like it to be. When given plenty of notice, I am guaranteed to say yes so long as I have no other prior commitments.
This lack of adaptability is another reason I don’t initiate get-togethers like I once did. I get very disheartened when I plan something and it becomes a back-and-forth stressful occasion of people either flaking out or trying to change the plans I put thought into. It only creates more stress and eventually led me to stop planning all together. I retreated once more and adopted a “why bother?” mentality.
Just know that I did not intend to drift away as much as I have. I am sorry that I haven’t been there, or that I haven’t acted much like my old self when I was. I’ve lost myself a bit over the years, and have been trying to find her and bring her back-–or at least build a new version of her. The current Covid world is helping to bring her back to the surface.
Know that I have no hard feelings and it was never personal. I’d love to have a close-knit group again, but it’s hard while juggling so many other things in life. I hate feeling like strangers, but I recognize things go both ways. I have not been putting forth efforts on my end for some time now. I’ve stayed in my small comfort zone to sort through everything on my own.
Still, I’m always here. A simple text away (calling is reserved for emergencies :D) if you want to hang, catch up, or need a friend. I’m a superb listener and advice giver (although some of you have always ignored it-you know who you are). Even though I’ve been MIA, I’m not lost forever.
How have you juggled friendships into adulthood? During difficult mental health times? Do you like to retreat or surround yourself with loved ones?