2016 · About Me · Change · Self Reflection · Self-Improvement · Writing

Preparing for 2017: The Semantics of Friendship

Christmas was quiet this year. Very quiet. I find that I quite enjoy the quiet simply because it is not often that my mind, heart, and soul are capable of resting in the moment. To be completely fair, I have spent a great deal of my holiday sleeping, as much as possible, whenever possible. I have not touched work, with the exception of an editing project, since the 23rd of December. However, now that even Boxing Day is over I feel compelled to start everything again – to get busy – and yet, I’m trying to temper this impulse.

I know myself well enough to know that being busy with meaningful projects makes me feel purposeful. I’m still learning to sort through what is actual work and what is ‘busy work’ though. (‘Busy work’ exists simply to drive me up the wall). As 2017 nears I feel driven to make changes except, I’d rather not place these ideas under the banner of resolutions because well the problem with most resolutions is that there is no room for movement. There is no room for adaptation or evolution – when one resolves to clean one’s house every single week without fail there is much room for failure and none for compromise. I want to modify my lifestyle but I want to implement those changes slowly.

im-still-learning-to-sort-through-what-is-actual-work-and-what-is-busy-work-though

I will record some of things I aspire to do this year in a series of short blog posts here. It is my hope that these posts will serve as reminders and encouragement for me as 2017 unfolds.

  1. Be more discriminating when I use the word ‘friend’

This falls under the idea of being more careful with my language as well. All too often we say things we do not mean because we either do not comprehend the words we’re using or we do not appreciate the weight words carry. Last semester I was in a poetry class where we studied Maya Angelou and as we discussed the power of words I put forward the idea of an alternate reality to my colleagues.

“What if every word you said appeared on your own skin? How many of those would you take back? What if every word you said about some else appeared on their skin? How would you speak differently?”

Well, what would you do? Would you do anything differently?

I have had an interesting year in terms of friends and I can certainly say I’ve learned much about who does and does not care for me. I addressed this topic with a mentor of mine in the summer when I was struggling to understand how someone I’d known for years suddenly appeared completely different to me. She told me that we all grow up and we all change. As simple as her words were they resonated with me – we all grow up – and sometimes we grow apart, we grow together, or grow side-by-side yet never interact. She helped me looked at my situation with new eyes and led me to understand that it was not just my friend who had changed but me too. Thankfully, the situation was not as dire as I believed it to be, my friend and I simply had to redefine our expectations of each other. And we did, not in so many words, but in silences, gestures, and smiles, we changed and adapted.

Other relationships I had were not so lucky, but I suppose that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Sometimes relationships simply run their course and other times you grow faster that your fellow rosebuds. Some friendships can survive across oceans while others cannot continue despite proximity and supposed common interests. I believe that people come into our lives for a reason and that the nature of the world dictates that we cannot only have positive or supportive people in our lives. You need people who dislike you, you need people to challenge you, and you need people to fundamentally disagree with the way you live your life. These people can sometimes be friends, or forms thereof and you need them in your life to figure out who you really want beside you when the end of the world knocks at your door.

So, I want to be more careful about who I call my friend. This might seem trivial but to me, an English major, words are powerful. I am well acquainted with the way a phrase can wrench the heart and bring tears to the eyes. I want to be sure that when I tell someone they are my friend that they are indeed my friend.

Thesaurus

I am already combing the thesaurus to find other words to identify the people in my life who are important but not exactly friends – colleagues, sisters, acquaintances, and mentors – some of my friends also fulfill more than one of these roles. The mentor I referred to above is both a friend and a mentor to me, while some of my Humanities friends are also people I consider colleagues. We may not be contracted to work with the university in an academic capacity but I still consider them academic colleagues. If you ever get the chance to hear Humanities students debate anything you’ll understand what I mean.

I want to use the vast world of words to classify and identity my peers, my friends, my sisters, and my acquaintances. Bring it on 2017, I’m armed and ready with my thesaurus.

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