Since the age of 12, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating relationships and the roles different people play in my life. That sounds a little crazy for someone that young, but it’s just something that I have always pondered. What makes one relationship close while another is distant, and what distinguishes an acquaintance from a friend? For a lot of people, particularly in today’s social media driven world where we “friend” everyone on Facebook as soon as we meet them and then immediately forget about them and think this is “normal,” there really isn’t a huge distinction between “acquaintance” and “friend,” and I’ve always found that a bit tragic. We consume ourselves with knowing people superficially and pretend in our heads that we have lots of “friends” – but those relationships are empty in the long run (e.g. when someone in your family dies, do you expect all your Facebook “friends” to send their condolences and come to your relative’s funeral?). I’ve always hated it, and maybe for that reason, I am guarded when it comes to labeling people my “friends,” and even more protective over those whom I would call “close.” I’ve been accused of being overly judgmental and too cautious, both of which have their bits of truth, but the bottom line is that I refuse to live a superficial life. I refused at age 12. I am still refusing at age 27.5. I want meaningful relationships with people I respect who genuinely, deeply care about me. Is that so much to ask? A lot of the time, it feels like it.

So, that’s why I have this recent conundrum, in which I have a colleague who is trying to befriend me, and I’m doing my best to keep my distance as much as possible without being rude. It’s not as though I never gave her a chance. Shortly after I started, she started at my office, and she asked me to lunch. I went to lunch with her, and for the first time ever, immediately got a sour taste in my mouth, and concluded this wasn’t going to work. The odd thing about this happening is that I rarely have lasting first impressions with anyone. In fact, most of the time when I first meet people, my first impression is neutral, and then as I spend more time with her, I realize gradually whether or not we mesh.

If we were to be friends, it’s almost as though I’d be violating my morals. She has a child who is over one, who spends Monday through Friday with her in-laws, days and evenings. She and her husband go over for dinner in the evenings, which her in-laws cook (they even pack them lunch for work!). She and her husband are basically child-free Monday through Friday with the exception of spending ‘family dinner’ time in the evenings with their daughter, and then on the weekends, they finally are parents and take care of their child. She constantly talks about wanting to do things like cook and sign up for a gym and go running, but insists that it’s too difficult with so little time working full-time and being a mom. What is wrong with that statement?

I can’t be around people who make people of my generation look lazy and as though they are not taking full responsibility for the life choices they have made. Ed might get mad at me and start scolding me the next time he visits me in a dream for this, but “I feel what I feel.” I need to surround myself with people who are proactively trying to do things to make their lives better, not dumping their responsibilities on other people and then lamenting that the world is unfair and that they don’t have time for (fill in the blank).

Then in my head, sometimes I think, “You think your life is hard? Did your sibling just commit suicide?” It’s a mean but easy card to pull if I really have to.

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