I was reading through my journal today, trying to find a common theme that tied this school year together. While I'm usually one to focus on experiences, this time around it was the relationships either formed or deepened that surrounded those experiences.
Friends. Family. Those that had become both. And maybe a few that right now, don't feel like either one. They're what made my sophomore year feel so full of special moments, as well as taught me some extremely tough lessons.
I was watching an episode of Oprah's Lifeclass last night and I heard a quote that I haven't been able to get out of my head: "People don't come into our lives to give us love; that love was already there. They're given to us by God to express and experience the kind of love that we're capable of."
And looking back, I didn't get to live it out until I started writing my Lent Letters. Honestly, I'm still writing them, because I don't think you should have to wait for a holiday to let somebody know how much they mean to you. We're not promised tomorrow, and I have definitely seen proof of that over these last two weeks.
From that, I feel like I have learned how to appreciate what I have while I have it. I used to get frustrated when I would only see certain people a couple times a month, sometimes even once a month. I'd see the billions of pictures that others would put on Facebook or the statuses about what they did the night before, and I would get jealous. I thought it was something you were supposed to do, and if you didn't, you weren't a normal college student. As shallow as that is, it was my line of thinking for a while.
That changed shortly before spring break, where I had one of the best nights of the semester. I felt what it was like to not constantly plan something and just go with whatever happened; I took things for what they were and lived in the present moment.
When I really thought about it, going out every single weekend was no longer important; the fun wasn't solely in getting dolled up or going out on the town, but being with those whom I cared about and vice versa. As far as Facebook goes, I don't want to be constantly updating my profile for whatever reason, because that's not living in the real world.
Someone once mentioned to me on Twitter that we become like those that we spend time with. I don't think we necessarily become them, because each of us has our own personality and way of thinking. However, I do genuinely believe that attitudes have a way of rubbing off on us, both in good ways and in bad.
I've had friends that by just being around them, I was both inspired and motivated to be the best person I could be. Their confidence and bright outlook was almost contagious. Being close with them wasn't complicated, because we could be real with each other and not worry about what the other person was going to think.
Yet, there were one or two that always seemed to cause more stress than the relationship was worth. One in particular, I spent some amount of time with almost every day; I was convinced that we were meant to be the best of friends. On the other hand, she was always very negative about what was going on in her life and hardly had anything good to say.
Let me clarify that there is nothing wrong with having a bad day, and that everybody goes through tough times. But there is nothing more heartbreaking then hearing a person say "I don't think that I will ever be happy." And there is nothing more frustrating when you feel like you can't communicate with that person because of that. You want to help them so badly, yet you can't.
I'm not one to advocate saying "screw you and get out of my life!" Nor am I one to advocate doing it dramatically and/or publicly. But I do believe in emotional distance.
Distancing myself from another person has always been one of the hardest things for me to do, because I have always felt that I was judging that person or not accepting them. But when someone is constantly hurting you in one way or the other, you know what they're capable of. It's a way of saying "I accept you, but not the way you're treating me or yourself."
I've had to go that route with multiple people; eventually, I do come to an understanding as to why. Sometimes you just need time to be apart and to grow up. Other times, the purpose for the relationship has been fulfilled and it's time to go on.
I've been asked if I regret investing in her, or anyone that ultimately turned into an emotional roller-coaster. No, I don't regret it at all. It may not have been the best decision, but it has lead me to where I need to be. Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you.
The question is not if we should invest in someone, but how. Not everyone is meant to be your best friend; to know your secrets, your fears, and what makes you tick. The reality is, not everyone has the best intentions or cares about how it affects you.
There is no right way to go about that; you just really have to trust your instincts. Don't force yourself to open up to someone if the opportunity doesn't arise. Don't feel obligated to spend time with someone if you really don't clique. And don't be afraid to walk away for the sake of your own well-being, if it comes to that.
I whole-heartily believe in the importance of surrounding yourself with good people; people that will lift you up and encourage you, along with allowing you to do the same for them.
Regardless of the role someone plays, be thankful for it. Be thankful for the way they helped mold you and for what they taught you. Eventually, it will all come full circle.