On a Sunday I found myself lying in the dark crying completely unexpected tears as I relayed my thought process to a friend.
I was away with a group of friends and we’d been having a bloody awesome time,
the tears seemed to come from nowhere.
As I washed my face to get ready for bed I said to myself: don’t let C realise you’re upset.
Another voice piped up: Tell her you’re upset, being vulnerable is how you make closer friendships.
The first voice replied:
You suck at making close friendships, that’s the problem.
Pull it together.
The second voice sighed: This is rare Andrea, don’t waste this opportunity to let someone else see you be vulnerable.
Why do you always have to do everything alone?
So as I got into bed, my friend asked me about the exact thing I’d been worrying about, the thing that was threatening to flood out from my eyes.
I paused while having an internal battle with Neville.
Then I decided I needed to act differently than I always have if I’m ever going to get good at this friendship thing.
Vulnerability won out.
C let me ramble on about the friendship bollocks I’d been struggling with, and a few thousand tears arrived.
I didn’t need solutions from her, I knew the main problem was in my mind and that I’d just become triggered.
She knew I just needed to talk it out.
In the background my mind Neville was getting very worked up in a conversation with himself:
Neville: “Good work Andrea, this is how normal people make good friends!”
“Shut up, shut uppppp! She doesn’t want to listen to this sad shit, abort friendship mission now!!”
But it was too late to turn back, I’d already been vulnerable, a rare thing for me in friendships.
As we talked, I realised a bunch of stuff about myself that I hadn’t really examined too closely before.
I realised how badly all of my friendships have been affected by a year of being bullied at high school by three females who had previously been my friends.
I realised that I censor myself around female friends WAY more than I knew.
I realised that I’m always subconsciously on edge with groups of female friends, waiting for one of them to turn around and tell me I’m not good enough, that I’m a dick, that I’ve said/done/been the wrong thing, or that they just don’t like me enough to bother, and that I need to bugger off.
Often I bugger off and bugger up friendships with my insecurities long before they have the chance to hurt me.
C shared that she often feels the same, like she censors herself around other females because she’s more like a dude, like me, and never feels she quite fits in with other females.
We agreed that we’re both a bit inept in the area of knowing what to do in female friendship situations, especially ones involving others’ emotions.
And we became closer as a result.
We both agreed to try and be uncensored around other females, and to pull each other up if we felt the other was censoring.
Since then, I’ve been much more aware of myself in social situations where I’m with a group of females, and have been practicing being unfiltered –
just trying to be my blunt, relatively untactful self and very practical/ solution-oriented self (even when all other females are doing their nice kindness thing).
While also acknowledging that I can sometimes find being myself around females really rather stressful at times, and letting myself off the hook when I slip up and say something that Neville deems as a dick move. Which happens often.
Sometimes we really just need to share our crazy-ass mind drama with friends.
I’m learning now more than ever that we need other humans, scary-as-all-hell as it is, we need to open ourselves up, be vulnerable, and to be a mess sometimes without having everything under control.
Vulnerability is perhaps the only thing that creates real connections, which explains a lot about why I’ve sucked at it for so long.
So incase you’re a control freak perfectionist like me, incase you also experienced rejection, social isolation or bullying as a kid, and in case you’re censoring the bejaysus out of yourself around your friends,
You’re not alone.
And you don’t need to go through it alone.