I know I’m not the greatest of friends right now. I’m a basket case with no time, no energy and no patience. That’s attributable to work and school, I know that and my friends know that. But stressing me out by getting on my case or calling me names just ensures I’m not going to make your friendship a priority when I do have time for something other than work or school.
Work is well, work. I love my job, it thrills me every day but is the sort of job that you don’t always get to check out of. I know that, accept that and actually thrive on that. I work with an exceptional team that supports me and makes sure that when checking out is necessary for me, the people and systems are in place to allow for it. Add grad school to that, and the potential for stress is great. Grad school is hard enough without working, add a job to the mix, it gets ugly. When it’s a job that you’re so passionate about you want to do it more and be better at it, and the potential for stress is astronomical. Throw in a type-A overachiever who isn’t satisfied with ‘good enough’ at work or school (and is so annoyed by the fact that she doesn’t have straight As that she’s considering retaking two classes just to get those As), and disaster is imminent.
In the last three years, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid disaster (this week’s little hiccup is just that…a hiccup that will pass). I have an incredibly supportive family that for many, many years has watched me run through this cycle of taking things on, achieving something and crashing at the end because it pushed me to my breaking point. I have that incredibly supportive team I mentioned that has learned the signs and nags me to the point that I actually listen, and has become friends in addition to coworkers. Through Facebook and Twitter, I have a network of everyone from childhood friends to practical strangers that always have a supportive word or laugh for me and have become my friends.
I also have a network of friends around the globe that knows me better than I know myself some days and is available for late night telephone therapy sessions, laughter, or just to distract me from whatever has me stressed out at that moment. They reach out to me, rather than waiting for me to reach out to them. They email me again and again knowing I get the emails, but just don’t have time to respond. They call and leave voicemail after voicemail even if I can’t call them back because the only time I’m not working or doing homework is between the hours of 11pm and 5am. They send supportive notes so when I open the mailbox, it’s just not junk mail or bills. They do whatever it takes to be my friend, knowing I can’t reciprocate right now. They understand I’m not ignoring them because of anything they did or because my interest in them has lessened. They recognize they need to carry the burden of our friendship for a little bit while I make sure I don’t melt down.
It’s that support structure that has gotten me this far – fourteen months from the end and while it might not be pretty, it’s going to get done and the vacation I’m already talking about will be where I can crash and recover. Once it’s done, I fully intend to make it up to everyone that’s supported me: All of the bloggers/Tweeters/Facebook friends I’ve interacted with and have never had the time to really dig into their blogs or worlds. All of the family members that keep me honest and force me to confront the truth about myself. All of my friends that have asked for nothing from me because they know I have nothing to give right now. I don’t know how and I can’t predict when, but I’ll find a way to make it up to you and tell you that I appreciated your support.
And those who haven’t been able to deal with me, that have gotten angry with me for not being able to make plans because I just don’t know when my homework will be done, or think I’m avoiding them because I don’t think calling them late at night is very nice and I have no other time to talk, or who want more from me that I can give and as a result lash out at me for saying no…you have shown me who my true friends are.
You’ve told me friendship is a two-way street, and I understand that, but you’ve indicated you’re not willing to do your part by being supportive and understanding. You’ve called me names and told me I’m hostile, which just isn’t what friends do to each other. You’ve referred to my secluded world, that admittedly is very focused right now, but you’ve done nothing to be flexible when I can escape that world of homework and work or to relieve some of the stress that creates that focus and seclusion. All you’ve done is pile on to the mountain of stress and forced me closer to that point of disaster. And that’s not something that anyone wants to see, so I have to avoid it. And you, and others like you.
So consider your numbers lost, your Facebook friendships removed, your IMs blocked, all of that…I don’t have time for the friends that don’t stress me out, so I’m certainly not making time for ones that do. But thanks for pushing me one step closer to disaster and making me cry, thanks for making me feel so horrible that I have to reach out to one of my friends, so I can further learn the lesson of who those true friends are. That’s something I’ll remember for when the tables are turned and I need to be the one emailing, calling, and just being a friend asking for nothing, only giving.
I only hope I can adequately repay the love and support I’ve received from each of my true friends.
P.S. to RD: Adults in my world agree: phone calls and texts after 10pm are too late. I guess my world of working professionals is much different than yours of professional students.