by Samantha Rose
I’ve always been an open book. I’ve always shared my life with others, online and offline. I wasn’t always the greatest friend. I jokingly told my best friend a few times that I was an asshole in high school because I feel that I was. I wasn’t outwardly rude, and I had enough friends, but I learned from a very young age how to do two things: gossip, and judge. I learned this from family, one person in particular, and it took me a long time to realize I was doing the same thing, despite having a problem with them doing it (clear mirror). I’ve had friendships that were more genuine that transcended those two things, although those friendships have also fallen victim to it at times. I’m not sure if people really talk about this, but judging and gossiping are two dangerously addictive behaviors that we can realize we aren’t even doing, and I never had someone check me on mine. Eventually, I saw myself and decided I wanted to stop. I didn’t have friendships that felt strong enough or were what I knew I truly wanted and I felt responsible for many of them.
Very often, I felt estranged with female friends. Male friends were easy and took far less work. Men don’t always seem to require the emotional fulfillment that women can, although I’ve absolutely experienced that as I’ve gotten older, which is nice. Men and women should be allowed and more comfortable to have intimate, platonic friendships, and I’m very grateful as I’ve gotten older that my friendships with men have turned more heartfelt. If I talked about male friends to my female friends, it didn’t feel like gossip. It felt like sharing. It’s turned out that some of my best friendships are with men, which can also get sticky if they begin to think they have feelings for you or vice versa, but that’s a whole different branch of this conversation.
What I’ve learned over the years (many of them) is the kind of friendship I long to have, specifically with women. I find myself envious of women who aren’t afraid to show physical affection or be loving to each other, who are comfortable being naked around each other because nudity doesn’t revolve around sex, talking about sex and relationships… aka, being intimate. Intimacy is not sex, so I’m not referring to that here.
I’ve never had that kind of female friendship, and there’s only one woman in my life who’s attempted to have that kind of friendship with me because she has that with many women in her life already and didn’t have the hangups I did. I wish that I’d been less shy with her and been more open and free-spirited like her when we were physically near each other, because she showed me an entirely new dynamic that I had never experienced before, and yet I didn’t find possible to engage in at the time. I was still very stuck in my fearful shell, although I embraced her ways and didn’t judge her, I was very much still judging myself.
What was the fearful shell? Being judged. Being judged for silly things has always been a soft spot for me as I grew up feeling very on the spot. So, instead of putting myself out there and risking judgment, I hid. And when I sensed judgment, I quickly judged them first to defend myself and create the barrier. This wasn’t only with women, this could be with anyone. It was a simple defense mechanism that seemed to keep me “safe” from judgment but in reality, all it did was keep walls up around me.
For feeling like such an open book, I was not open to people in many ways.
Between my longtime best friend and many other women in and out of my life, I’ve realized something: I’ve become more of an open book over the years, I share many of my experiences, and I don’t think I’ve received that in return from others. Many times in my life, I’ve felt like I was doing all the work (even though at times I’m sure I wasn’t doing any). I think that everything I critique in others, I have also engaged in. I’ve contemplated if I even deserve that intimacy because of how I was in the past. Maybe I haven’t made room, maybe I’ve overstepped, maybe I’ve been judgmental even through my efforts to stop (and actually, it’s gotten so, so much better, because I care much less of what others think of me, and have grown so much softer toward myself and others, which I’ll write about another time), maybe I’ve not been the best listener, but I want to be better.
Moving a lot throughout my 20s doesn’t help to feel far and apart from everyone, but it did offer me so many amazing friendships and lifelong friends that I love so much, even if we don’t get to talk and see each other daily. I want to be better in communication with them because at the end of the day, I long for intimate friendships with open communication, holding each other accountable, sharing about our lives, playing with our hair or making each other tea or food and being overall loving––whatever that is, I don’t know. I long for friendships where we can share daily things like we used to. I know texting is exhausting, but there has to be a way to communicate consistently without feeling exhausted by it. Social media has made us so comfortable with being half-assed in everyone’s lives, but I crave deeper friendships.
I don’t even particularly think it’s anyone’s fault. I think it boils down to seeing each other daily on social media and engaging that way instead, feeling as though we know what’s happening in people’s lives (or at least knowing enough), and then being so bombarded by technology daily that by the end of the day we don’t even have the strength to call our friends. I’m aware that not EVERYONE is exhausted in that capacity, so I’d love to hear some pro-tips from those who do have those strong, intimate, full-time friendships.
I’m so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life, and I want to nurture those bonds I already have. I kept feeling I needed to meet my tribe, but I’ve been gathering my tribe throughout my 20s. I’m sure I’ll meet more, but I also want to the nurture the amazing people I already have. I hate feeling that I just share about myself. I share details about my life and when I ask some people how they’re doing, attempting to be there for them as they are for me, I get little in return. Instead of an “I’m good” and leaving it there, maybe we can be more detailed: I’m too tired to talk about myself right now, but I’m good and I’ll call you later!
I want intimacy. I want soul bonds. I want depth. I want genuine connections. Don’t we all?
I don’t want shallow friendships. I don’t want half ass friendships. I don’t want once in a while friendships.
Maybe we can make efforts in real communication in 2019 and beyond? How do we do that? What do those look like?
I started this conversation on Twitter and received a lot more response than expected. Feel free to reach out to me there. I wanted to write this piece to get everything out more solidly instead of a string of tweets, but I’d love to continue the discussion there.
Samantha Rose is a poet, writer, and editor whose burnings have reached The Occulum, ILY Mag, and more. She runs her own coven + lit mag, Pussy Magic, and has self-published two collections of poetry. Her writing speaks to the core of what churns us as humans and she is inspired by the interweaving of nature. She is passionate about honest and open self-expression. With Soulbits on Fire, Samantha hopes to inspire others to openly and bravely FEEL. She encourages you to take a few deep breaths after reading this. Feel that? Feels good, doesn't it? Check out her #soulbits on IG: @baddiesam.