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Archive for the ‘Friend’ Category

Hello, friends. Sorry I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a little crazy here in my mind. I haven’t had many coherent thoughts regarding relationships due to some recent changes in some of my own close relationships. It’s been a bit of an emotional struggle, and may continue to be, but I have found that I can at least have coherent thoughts on relationships again. Thanks for your understanding!

 

As my brief silence has demonstrated, relationships are hard. Sometimes you have to choose between different relationships, which one needs the most nurturing. It’s not necessarily putting one above the other indefinitely, but rather putting one above the other for a moment in time. It’s putting one above the other(s) based on your own personal needs, and sometimes your friends’ needs, at that point in time.

Balancing relationships takes time, effort, and trial and error. It’s complicated because there can be a lot of people and emotions involved, on both your part and your friends’ part. We are people constantly in different kinds of relationships, and with so many personalities in the world we have to remember to think of both ourselves and those we care about.

The hardest part about having different relationships with different people is all the different needs we each have. You have all of these people outside of you that have different relationship needs from each other and from you. One close friend may need you, while you need a different friend at the moment. The trick is to balance the two, not focusing solely on those outside of yourself, but not focusing solely on yourself either. It keeps your relationships healthy and without bitter feelings.

Relationships take sacrifice, even if it’s only the amount of time we spend on them. And many times relationships require emotional sacrifice as well. We have to sacrifice what our wants and needs are for our friends’, and sometimes we need them to do the same for us. But the thing to remember is that it’s a give and take between you and your friend. If it’s all on one side, someone will start to feel slighted.

One way to avoid problems when it comes to these types of things is to develop a relationship that’s open, where you and your friend both feel comfortable sharing those types of thoughts and feelings with each other. Much of the time, this is all it takes to remedy the problem. If your friend comes to you and says she feels you’re not spending enough time with her, you can fix that and make her more of a priority. But if that friend doesn’t say anything to you, you may not notice, and bitterness can enter that relationship, bogging it down and creating even more problems.

Some of the hardest work in this aspect I have dealt with has been in recognizing the balance I’m holding onto with my relationships. Often, I see it more within my friends as they spend time with one another but not me. But at the same time, I know that it’s a two-way street. Both parties have to make an effort. Luckily, my relationships with these friends are open enough that they know they can tell me if they want me to spend more time with them, and vice versa. It’s a way to be honest and trust one another, and these are some of the closest friends I’ve ever had.

So if you’re struggling to balance relationships, don’t sweat it too much. We all struggle with it, and will continue to for the rest of our lives. Relationships aren’t supposed to be easy; they’re supposed to challenge you and help you grow into a better person. Learning to balance those relationships is an essential part of that process.

 

Have you ever had trouble balancing relationships? Were you able to work it out?

Feel free to ask me questions, and I’d love to hear your stories as well!

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We’ve talked about a lot of aspects of relationships throughout this series, but this may be the hardest one to breach. Letting go of a friendship that’s toxic or just no longer there is hard–harder than trying to make a new relationship work.

I’ve been there. Twice I’ve had to really think about letting go of a relationship, and it’s a hard thing to do. When you have a relationship, it’s a hard thing to question, because you love that person. But when it’s no longer healthy and it’s sapping you of energy, there’s something wrong. And maybe it’s time to let go.

 

One-Sided

One relationship I held onto for years before realizing it just wasn’t there anymore. I did everything I could to keep it going, initiating conversations, happy when he actually responded. Of course, he was the only childhood friend I wanted to keep in contact with, so it was hard to let go of that friendship.

But I had to let it go. It became a one-sided friendship, all of the effort coming from me to keep the relationship going. When a friendship becomes so one-sided that the only time you hear from that person is when you contact them, and you’re generating the entirety of the conversation as you’re having it, then it’s no longer a healthy relationship. You’re putting much more effort into it, and honestly, that other person may not even be thinking about you until you contact them.

This isn’t to say that those friends who you always have to contact are like that–I am in no way saying that. There are many people out there who just struggle with making initial contact, as we talked about here. The difference is in whether or not they even seem interested in keeping up with your life. If so, then they’re just not the type to reach out. If not, you might want to consider letting go of a potentially one-sided relationship.

 

Nothing You’ve Done

There are other reasons to let go of a friendship with someone, though. Another reason I’ve encountered is when it’s just not the same relationship anymore. Two of my friends in college dated, and I was close to both of them. But their relationship didn’t last, and neither could all the relationships that surrounded them. The relationship I had with one friend stayed, because it was very outside of the relationship we had as a group. And although the other one was outside of the group as well, I was too connected to my other friend. Keeping our relationship alive hurt him, so I had to let it go.

Sometimes, letting go isn’t for your own good, but for the other person’s. If your relationship is causing them pain, they’re not going to pursue that relationship, no matter how badly you don’t want to lose it. Sometimes, to help them out, you have to let go. Because you care too much about them to hold on and hurt them.

 

There are many other reasons to let go of a relationship; maybe it’s become toxic in some way, or maybe you’ve just grown apart and it’s hard to let go. I won’t go into detail about other reasons here, because I don’t have the experience with them. I’ve not seen them in action, and I would rather not talk about something I’m not sure about.

If you have an experience you’d be willing to share, or you want to add to something I’ve said here, feel free to join in. I’d love to hear your stories and start a discussion on this topic. It’s hard to let go of a relationship, no matter what kind of a relationship it is.

 

Communications Series

1 – Communication with Life’s Stresses

2 – Reaching Out and Being Intentional

3 – Reaching a Deeper Level – Big Talks

4 – Your Friend but Not Theirs

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So far in this series, we’ve talked about communication when life is stressful, reaching out to others intentionally, and taking a relationship to a deeper level. This week is a little different, but still relevant to what we’ve been discussing.

Picture this: You have two different friends, both of whom you’re very close to. With each you’ve reached some of the deeper levels of friendship and companionship. They’re both very dear friends of yours. But they hardly know each other. They’ve met a couple of times, but haven’t really had the conversations or time together that you’ve had with each of them. And soon you find out there’s some misunderstanding between them, some tension that you only notice after it’s been voiced to you. But they’re not good friends, so how do they work it out? How do they get together to talk when they’ve not done so before? Do you have to be the go-between?

This is something that can happen often in life, whether when we’re in school, work, or another large place we’re at for a while. And when this scenario comes up, you can feel the tension on both sides. Conversations with each person about the other and what’s going on seem strained and heavy. Almost too heavy for you to bear the weight of both.

Each person is your friend, but not theirs–not the other’s friend. This can easily put a strain on both of your relationships because you don’t want to lose either of them. You don’t want to be prioritizing one over the other, and you start worrying that you will or that you are.

Yet the best thing you can do in this situation is stay calm. Try to get both sides of the story if both friends are forthcoming about it. Then help them get in touch to set up a time to talk it out among themselves, and step back from the situation. There’s not much more you can do.

But what if they don’t want to try to work it out? In my experience, if they’re both close friends of yours, they’ll want to work it out. If they’re close friends, they’ll worry about the strain it’s putting on you and make it a priority to talk about whatever problem there is. But you can’t force them into it. And if they won’t take the time, question why. Ask them what it is that’s holding them back, and hope that they’re honest with you.

This can be a very hard thing to deal with because there’s really nothing you can do. And that’s hard. But you can’t control others’ feelings, thoughts, actions, or desires. It has to be completely up to them. And if they won’t, talk to them about it. Let them know how much it would mean to you if they did. And if they still won’t, then you may have a legitimate reason to question your friendship.

Your friends should be able to make sacrifices for you if they care about you, just as you would make sacrifices for them. This is a problem that’s bothering you because you care about them, because you care about how they’re hurt or whatever it is they’re feeling. In my experience, a deep, lasting friendship is one where there’s mutual sacrifice. And there’s no way to get around that.

So if you ever have this kind of an issue, or even sense something like it, take the time to figure out what it is. Ask those involved about what’s going on, and do what you can to facilitate conversation between your two friends. But don’t keep yourself in the middle or run yourself down with worry. Do what you can, then step back and let them take it the rest of the way. It has to be up to them.

 

What do you think? Do you have any experiences similar to this? What are your suggestions? We all have relational problems in life. Let’s help each other through them.

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When I’ve heard other writers give advice about attending writers’ conferences, there are two pieces of advice I always hear: “Connect with people you don’t know. Network.” and “Go to everything offered.”

For first-time conferees, these two phrases can put a lot of pressure on both the conferee and the conference. There are many expectations for the experience. However, while I think that both pieces of advice are good to hear, I also think we need to take them with a grain of salt.

“Connect with people you don’t know. Network.”

Networking is good, and so is connecting with writers, agents, editors, etc. that you don’t know. However, this can put a lot of pressure on conferees, especially introverts. While at the conference, they’re worried about talking to enough people, and the use much of their energy trying to work up the courage to talk to strangers all day. As an introvert myself, I’ve found this to be extremely exhausting. And as I use up my energy trying to talk with people the whole time, per the advice I’ve received, I find it harder at times to focus on the workshops and have energy for the things I am excited about.

Another thing that I thought when I heard this piece of advice was that I had to connect with a lot of people. I took it in the sense of “meet someone, have a short, meaningful conversation, and move on to meet someone new.” But I think sometimes you just need to connect with those old friends you haven’t seen in a while, or even those acquaintances you don’t know that well. Here’s one of my own experiences.

This past weekend I attended the Indiana Faith and Writing Conference in Anderson, Indiana. I was there with a group of fellow classmates, and a lot of the time I talked with them. Instead of branching out at lunch and sitting with a group of strangers, I chose to sit with a few of my classmates, most of whom I hardly ever talked to. And we had a wonderful conversation. For that day, it was my favorite part of the conference, and I feel I gained much more out of having lunch and interacting with my classmates than I would have if I’d networked and sat with a group of people I didn’t know.

“Go to everything offered.”

Look, I get the point of this statement, but it’s just not possible sometimes. I know the value in experiencing everything the conference has to offer, but sometimes you just can’t do it.  From what I thought when I heard this, and what friends have thought as well, this is often taken as “Go to everything offered no matter your energy level.” Which I think is just ridiculous. If you’re going to a conference, you’re going because you want to learn new things and meet new people. You can’t do that if you’re too exhausted to approach others or pay attention in workshops and critique groups.

I attended the Write to Publish conference at the beginning of this summer, and this was one of the pieces of advice I took to heart. I was determined to go to everything they offered that I could. I was ready to take in all of the information from the four day conference. I was excited.

By the time I made it to the middle/end of the third day, I was exhausted, but still excited. I was having a great time and learning a lot. Then at dinner I started talking with an alumnus from my college who was also attending the conference. When the time came to go to the evening activities, such as a speaker and critique groups, we decided that we both needed a break–and we didn’t want to end our conversation. So we went back to the dorms we were staying in (we were on the Wheaton Campus in Wheaton, Illinois) and talked for another hour or two. Honestly, it was the best thing I could have done. Not only was I able to rest from taking in information, but I was able to really connect, and it was with someone who helped me more than anything I could have learned from the conference activities.

So, what I’m trying to say with these examples is to not go too far. Know what your limits are, and when you reach them, don’t push past. You’ll only exhaust yourself further, which could lead to missed opportunities or lessons. If you get the chance, slow down and really connect with someone–whether that’s someone you already know or someone you just met. Don’t be rushing around trying to get everything in, because chances are, you won’t. And that’s okay. It’s why most conferences are an annual thing.

Go ahead and take everything you can out of the experience, but don’t go too far. Slow down and listen for what God’s calling you to do, even if that’s getting away from the conference for an hour or two to rest. Because if you don’t, you might just miss something important.

 

What do you think about these pieces of advice? Others? Voice your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say on the subject. (After all, I’m only one of the many perspectives out there.)

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IMG_0033“Newt!”

“I’ve got him, Minho.”

At Tanners Orchard in Illinois this weekend two of my close friends and I ran the corn maze. Ever since we saw “The Maze Runner” last October, we’ve assumed the characters of Minho, Thomas, and Newt as part of our identities, in those parts of our personality that match theirs. It’s been a way for us to have fun while we hang out, and a way for us to keep in touch with a movie we thoroughly enjoyed.

It’s another aspect of our relationship that ties us together. And so we went to Tanners for the second year in a row, and we went through the corn maze together as characters from “The Maze Runner.”

For me, this is an aspect of my relationship with these two people that deepens it. We call each other the characters from the movies, and we’ve enjoyed watching them together. And as all of us are writers, we’ve enjoyed theorizing about what might come next. It’s a part of our relationship that I’m deeply grateful for.

And choosing those characters for each other says something about our relationship: we know each other well enough to see one another in those characters. And as we interact using these names, we’re having fun with one another and deepening our relationship with another means.

When thinking about the relationship of these characters within the last couple of movies, too, it says something about our own interactions and relationships. By choosing these characters, we’re not only seeing the characters in each other, but we’re also seeing aspects of the characters’ relationships within our own: some of the bigger traits being loyalty, teamwork, and trust.

IMG_0041Relationships can’t solely be deep conversations and emotions running wild. There has to be some fun involved, and for us a part of that is through the times we’re characters from “The Maze Runner.” It gives us the chance to just mess around and be nerds. And we love it.

 

 

What are some of the fun and crazy things you do with your friends that you love?

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