The “Flaky” Friend

My views on friendship and relationships and life in general has changed drastically recently. But there’s still something I feel slightly uneasy about.

Growing up, I was never someone with a large group of friends. I think any introvert can understand that just a few high-quality people are all you need to feel satisfied. But that doesn’t mean I was very self-conscious about my seemingly inactive social life.  I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in on what is considered a “normal” social life. I always felt like I was behind some how, that I was missing out.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve ever been someone actively trying to fix that mentality, either. I am just an independent person, in general, as well as a workaholic. I’m someone who makes plans in my head of what I want to accomplish each day, even if that’s just getting me time. Unless I’m in the  mood to be spontaneous, just getting up and doing something can actually be quite nerve-racking.

Most often, after a long day, the last thing I feel like doing is going out and seeing others. It’s not that I don’t like doing it. I love my group of friends. I just instinctively crave alone time more often. That doesn’t mean I don’t keep in touch with people, which, admittedly, I could still improve on, but communication is key. But I do have the habit of backing out of social gatherings in favor of a quiet evening at home. In turn lies the fear of being the “flaky friend.” The one who constantly uses excuses to get out of any point of

It’s hard to describe to other people, when I’m feeling particularly anxious or depressed, why I’m letting those emotions potentially hold me back from making memories and seeing other people. I know my friends would be very understanding of those reasons for missing out, but they both happen quite often, and are way too convenient of excuses that I could use them even if I’m feeling okay and just don’t feel like leaving the comfort zone of my bed and computer. It’s dancing on a fine line between recognizing my health and recognizing my tendencies to become a hermit.

I don’t like blaming my mental health for every single time I’m not in a tip-top mood. I don’t want them to hold me back from experiencing some awesome moments with others. But when it turns into a habit of simply saying “I can’t go” and working weeks ahead in a class, then I know I need to reevaluate.

Because I am so goal and career oriented, I have a great motivation to do well in academics. I’ve always been that way, which I’m quite proud of. Except that means I can sometimes forget that the college experience is more than just studying. In a new environment, making a name and life for myself, surrounded by so many different people, stepping outside of my comfort zone is intimidating.

You have to ultimately listen to yourself and your own needs. People need and crave different amounts of social time than others, and that’s perfectly okay. But there has to a balance. Even if that means skipping out on study time for a spontaneous night out. People are used to reminding others to take time away from partying to focus on school work, but there are others on the opposite end of the spectrum, too, and we also need those reminders.

Sure, you’re here to get a degree. You’re here to figure out what kind of career you want to make for yourself. But you won’t remember all of those hours staring at a textbook. You’ll remember doing stupid things with friends that can last for a lifetime.

But also remember your mental health, too. Don’t force yourself to go beyond your limits because of social pressure. That won’t help anybody. If you can find those friends who understand and even stand by your side to just watch TV in silence, those are people worth keeping. Then when you’re feeling better, you can enjoy every second of it.

So when I worry about being flaky, when I feel wishy-washy about making plans, it’s because I have no clue where my head will be. While I usually prefer making plans, even then, I can get anxious and psych myself out for no reason, to the point I can’t think about socializing. My social anxiety has definitely gotten better, but it’s become less about meeting new people and letting my personality shine through. Instead, I get anxious about 95% of people and situations, more just from anticipation than the activity itself most of the time. Even simple things like watching Netflix. I can’t pinpoint why they make me nervous. They just do. Which, in turn, leave me nervous that people will abandon me altogether for “flaking out.”

I’m a work in progress. This is just another area that I’ve made significant strides in, but I’m by no means finished working on it. I tend to be someone who gives my fair share of advice, but applies only a fraction of it to myself. Just the fact I have traveled to see other people three weekends in a row is something that blows myself away, but I’m beyond proud. And I don’t plan on slowing down on my work any time soon. If I can prioritize and work on my GPA, I don’t see why I can’t apply that work ethic to relationships, too. And I know the results be just as rewarding.

To those I have potentially bailed on, or seemed distant, or haven’t caught up with in awhile: I’m sorry. I care and treasure you so much, but just be patient. I’m always here for you. I wish my mental health wasn’t such a barrier to my appreciation for you, but I’m working on it.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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