I’m not a very stress-y person. I’m pretty cool under pressure and I don’t get overwhelmed easily. However, there is one thing I do stress about though, and lately I’ve been really wondering about it. That thing is relationships/friendships.
For me, friendship is one of the most stressful things in my life. Previously, I didn’t pay any attention to the stress. I figured since I didn’t have much experience with a real self-sacrificial type of friendship I just didn’t realize what it would be like. I assumed I was either stressing out because it was unfamiliar or I was unfamiliar with the fact that I would stress out. Either way I thought it would subside or become more bearable. But recently, I’ve noticed that the stress of relationships hasn’t left. It may have actually increased. And I’m starting to think that is not OK.
It seems like friendship should be one of the least stressful activities a person could ever engage in. That’s not to say that it won’t be difficult at times or even stressful but I certainly don’t think it should be constantly stressful. And yet, for me, friendships almost always are. So I guess I must be doing it wrong. But I can’t think of a good way to rectify that.
One way is to view the problem as external. Maybe I’m friends with the wrong people who not only stress me out but also stress others out. The obvious solution would be to get rid of these friends (which causes an entirely different problem – how do you end a friendship?). The other possibility is that the problem is internal. Of course, this has many different options.
1) Maybe I care too much (that’s always my first option because it makes me look good)? Even though that’s a mostly ego-rubbing thought, it does have some merit. Sometimes I can get too caught up in minor words or glances or texts or lack of texts and this only will lead to stress.
2) Maybe my expectations are unrealistic? That one does tend to happen. Sometimes I expect people to react a certain way and they don’t and that’s stressful. That’s partially because I expect everyone’s approach to friendship to be similar to mine, so I get stressed out when it’s not.
3) Maybe people don’t approach relationships the way I do? One of the main things that has colored my understanding of relationships has been my personal experience, namely my MS diagnosis a few years back. It forced me to prioritize my life differently not because I knew I would die soon (which I didn’t/don’t) but because I knew that I could die. It may sound a little silly but I never considered my mortality before a few years ago, as I assume most teenagers don’t. The funny thing is, though, I think most young adults don’t either. Not in a macabre way (because, though I’ve done that before, it isn’t helpful), but in an honest way, a way in which you’d have to rethink your life choices.
4) Maybe I’m clinging just a little too tightly to something that was only meant for a little while? I once heard a sermon about some OT text (wish I could remember; it was probably from Exodus). Essentially, the thesis was that the Israelites wanted to make what was temporary, permanent. I think we all do that at times. I thought I had a good grasp of what relationships would be temporary and which ones would be permanent but maybe the stress comes from me trying to breath life into something that died a long time ago.
After a few hours of introspection, I can’t say that I’ve found a real solution to this problem. That may be because it’s always hardest for me to admit number 5.
5) Maybe my insecurity about friendships isn’t something that just sits under the surface but instead affects every relationship I’m in? This is a funny one and it’s not a huge surprise seeing as how I find it somewhat difficult to trust people. It’s funny because I can (and do) trust certain people with my life, but I don’t always trust that those same people are being honest with me. I know where it comes from and it is rather sad but I’ve found it to also be true (sometimes. It is by no means always true of everyone). So that lack of trust, that insecurity, makes me wary of my friendships and it causes me to stress about them. It’s not the most exciting way to live.
But alas, at least I’m less stressed out now.