Being close with my family - perhaps freakishly close with some members - friends have always played a strange role in my life. I know I've seemed like I could take or leave them; at times I've honestly believed it. I think I know myself so well, but sometimes I can't see how things around me really are until I consciously step back and think. I've been trying to do that, to figure out what family means, what it's supposed to mean, and how friendship is a choice.
This is already confusing, so I'll try to break it down. Last week, when I was fretting about the interview and how my "openness" may not always be a good thing, my darling friend pointed out that part of why I can be so open with my friends is that they know where I'm coming from; it's not like an out-of-context slice when I say something unexpected/controversial/ridiculous to them. I really don't think I'd ever really thought of that. I suppose I expected my friends to forgive me for that reason (why I thought knowing me merited forgiveness I really don't know, except for blind arrogance), but part of my belief that people can only know (and, by extension, truly love) you is through open communication - I know we are constantly censoring ourselves, but by being as open as we can be - relies on my being fairly open with everyone. (Someone once described me as "generous" with my stories and background; to be honest, I didn't really know how to take that.) But now I think that belief has led me to take my friends for granted. They do really know me. For every poo story or other over-share, they probably forgive me as much as they are amused, and I never know it because they are not my family so they never feel it their duty to teach me something. They actually accept me, as I am; I know this because they exist, and they don't have to. And here is why I know I will always need friends (note I said "need"- I know why I want them; they're the best); because as much as my family (do I mean my parents? Maybe) love me, their love never feels quite unconditional - they necessarily have responsibility for me, and expectations, and worries. And we didn't pick each other, so it's not entirely surprising we're very different. But my friends, without those expectations and worry and responsibility, give something unconditional. They picked me because I'm me, they support me when I'm me, and they let me do the same (I think).
On Wednesday, after doing something very embarrassing that involved her, I had brunch with one of my best friends, and I felt beloved. Last night I caught up with some newer friends I hadn't seen in a few weeks (and my oldest, best friend) at the pub, and I felt loved. Today I am having lunch with a big group of my friends, which I've been looking forward to all week, with whom I always feel special. It sounds very cheesy but I am going to make a silent toast to them, and all my friends. It's taken me a long time to realise it, but I don't just enjoy my friends; I really, really need them.
This song has been in my head while I've been writing this. Sometimes one does forget how much she loves people she doesn't tell so all the time.
Self-improvement/-realisation/-actualisation is a life-long commitment.