Make an Effort
Written by Yasmeen Yahya
You know those people that are like, “We should grab coffee sometime!” and then they never follow up? I’m that person. In fact, I’m probably the reigning champion of never initiating plans. I could say that I’m busy, which is true, and I could say that I like my alone time, which is also true. Though, the reality is that I am conservative with my time and my energy. For an introvert like me, who loves her alone time, doesn’t mind being an observer in social situations, and most of the time won’t go out of her way to talk to people, it’s easy to get stuck inside my own bubble. But these are all the symptoms, and the cause is that I’m protecting myself and my energy.
Maintaining friendships is hard. Making them seems to be harder. The easiest of friendships derives from convenience, i.e. whom we’re surrounded by. Usually, these kinds of relationships are established in a school or work setting. We see these people every day and immediately have a common ground, our shared environment. So what happens when that environment goes away? The situation changes because of a career change, a move, graduation, etc. So then what? How do you make friends? And how do you maintain the friends you have made.
I consider myself to be pretty low-maintenance in relationships. I’m like your snake plant or a favorite succulent, all I need is some TLC from time-to-time, maybe once a week, and I’ll be just fine. Similarly, if you overwater me I get overwhelmed. However, my acquaintances and people I want to be friends with do not know this about me. Which, as you might expect, causes some dissonance in our potential friendship.
Though, acknowledging that I am “socially lazy” doesn’t cut it. Attributing my lack of communication to enjoying my alone time is superficial at best. It’s what I say when I run into someone I’ve been meaning to hit up but never got around to it, “sorry!! I’ve just been super busy and when I have a day off I just need to recharge.” That’s mostly true. However, there’s another part to this story.
Putting in effort in relationships can look like a lot of things, and some people, it means doing something as simple as picking up the phone and texting a friend, what are you doing Saturday? But even that can be difficult for me. When someone asks me to hang out, I immediately think, why me? I have a fear that when I do hang out with a prospective friend, they will inevitably find out that I am not as cool as they think I am. Minutes before any social interaction my internal dialogue just plays, “Yasmeen’s Greatest Hits”, which is just a montage of my worst social interactions on loop. I fear that five minutes into a conversation with me, they will realize that my idea of a fun night is ordering take out pizza, love-hate watching “The Bachelorette”, and then calling it quits at ten so I can be in bed by eleven at the latest. Maybe they’ll realize that I’m not as smart or funny as they think I am, or worse, that I’m boring. As many women do, I struggle with imposter syndrome professionally, but I’ve realized that this mentality has crept its way into my social life as well. I fear that I will be “found out” as a person who is actually boring.
I talked to my mom about this and she gave me some advice she’s been giving me since I was a child, “Iuberea, who cares what they think? Just be yourself and if they don’t want to be your friend then you’re better off without them anyway.”
Aaand I feel like I’m in middle school again. Though, “just be yourself” is pretty solid advice in most situations, no matter how old you are. Not everyone is your kind of person and, similarly, you are probably not everyone’s kind of person either, and that’s okay. Great friendships are some of the best gifts this life has to offer and it’s up to us to find them. So, in the words of Tan France, “make an effort.”
Yasmeen Yahya lives in Austin, Texas. She discusses mental health, culture, and identity here at Pass/Fail and at Pants Optional. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find Yasmeen organizing something, texting her therapist, or, in true Sagittarius nature, delving into her latest obsession. This month, it's interior design.