I don’t have a lot of friends–which, admittedly, is not a great way to open up this post. But I’m going with it.
As a person who developed pretty intense social anxiety during her senior year of high school, it’s been hard for me to make the kinds of friendships I made in high school in college. As a person in my sophomore year of college, and as a person in my first semester being active in Greek life, I’m working on the social anxiety thing. The kinds of friendships thing, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the people I’ve met in my fraternity. I’ve made friends in and outside of Greek life. I feel like I belong, finally, on a campus that swallowed me whole freshman year. I have a place now.
But of the top five most important friends in my life, I have been friends with four for at least seven years. Cameron, the fifth, I’ve known for only over a year; she’s always been a sort of anomaly anyway.
Knowing your best friends since you were twelve means that when nineteen year old you has a problem, they understand it without having to be told. I’ve had years to learn them inside and out, just as they’ve had years to learn me. So why do I still sometimes feel like they don’t want to be my friend?
Then I learned about love languages. Once I learned about it, I felt pretty dumb: of course people express their love for others in different ways. Every person is different, every person’s experiences have been different–no one person experiences, lives, thinks,or loves exactly like another.
My top love languages are Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. I’m sure somewhere in there is a case study on one’s parental involvement affecting how one understands love–but, you know, we’ll save that debacle for another time.
I spend all of my time in both romantic and platonic relationships expecting to receive exactly as I give. I’m learning, especially recently, that although that weird adaption of The Golden Rule sounds nice in theory, it’s not always practical in practice. One of my friend’s or partner’s love language might be in gift giving; my understanding of how much they care about me shouldn’t be interpreted by how much time they spend with me, but rather the thought they put into their gifts.
I guess what I’m saying, in a not-completely-clear and roundabout way, is that treating others the way you want to be treated doesn’t always mean buying your best friend a perfect Hanukkah present because the Christmas present you received was exactly what you wanted. Mostly I’m saying that I can’t be blamed for how terrible I am at giving good gifts.