The Introverted "People Pleasing" Artist, Part 4
You might say San Diegans are quite a nice group of people. You see it at the stores, restaurants, and many neighborhoods. All smiles and waves. In that same spirit of benevolence, confrontation is avoided. Especially nowadays, commentary with a possible negative connotation, is pretty much discouraged, especially if it is a grievance or complaint of some sort.
This has been my understanding. But I would be hard-pressed to believe it is exclusively mine. I see it everywhere. Whenever someone openly complains, perhaps even rightly so, onlookers have no idea what to do. I have even started to see most store and restaurant managers take the side of the kitchen who served raw chicken, or the prejudiced saleslady, than the one who spoke up.
“It was all a misunderstanding…”
So, when it comes to friendships here in sunny SoCal, at least in my experience, the moment something feels off or someone gets hurt – the protocol is to either put up with it in silence (be the "bigger" person), or simply eliminate them from your life.
I agree, confrontation is uncomfortable. However, I believe it is necessary for personal growth. As imperfect people, we must learn to love and value one another through our imperfections. And the only way we can learn about our own faults is if people actually confront us about them.
A black-out friendship is confusing, hurtful, and begs the question: if you did something wrong, why are you not worth telling?
I lost at least 3 childhood “best” friends like this after moving to SoCal. To this day, I don’t know what I did. I remember I had asked and begged to know. I still remember their names too. And I know at least 2 of them never thought twice about me again. When I saw them just a few years ago, they had no clue who I was even after I introduced myself…
Could it be that in a big city, friends are disposable? Could it be that with this often-referenced, consumer mindset we now see friends as commodities and only salvage those friends that benefit our interests?
Maybe. One thing is for sure: these were never real friendships. I thought they were, and I treated them as such. I gave everything to please them. So the moment I stopped being perfect, the only likely scenario occurred: they left.
Back then, when these friends went MIA on me, it threw my confidence to the gutter. I could not reconcile the closeness and intimacy of a friendship I thought we had, with the cold, hard faces they openly offered me. Where was the fight, the yelling - like the one with my Kindergarten friend Jennifer? What terrible thing had I done?
Unfortunately that question would haunt me even into adulthood. I would make friends only to fear losing them to this terrible habit or fault I had, that would inevitably drive them away. I would constantly self-scrutinize.
and I would resort to methods of retaining friends that are bound to fail. But it was all for the artistry of making friends in spite of my insecurities. The longing for camaraderie was too strong. Yet, so were my obstacles.