I’m really thankful for the people I meet at work. They are so different from me, and so, so different from a large hunk of my social circle. They are humble, funny, they aren’t trying to prove anything, and they don’t antagonize you unthinkingly. I didn’t realise how much I was missing growing up in the environment that I grew up in. I myself may not be the easiest of people to get along with but I do think I am slightly more thoughtful than the friends I met up with this week, at least in my speech. With a frequency that I have grown unused to, I have been insulted/belittled/underestimated by people I’ve known from young, and who are supposed to know me. I never once thought I would prefer strangers to my friends but perhaps I was always deluded into thinking my friends’ behaviour was the norm. How misguided!
Starting out with new friends at each stage of my life is, as i’ve come to realise, not only inevitable but also healthier for my well-being and character growth. Each phase of friends departs so dramatically from the friends of my past and makes me much more empathetic and careful of what i say, careful of other people’s feelings. I try harder not to judge, not to assume I know anything at all about another person – everybody is a new experience simply because they didn’t come from the same background as me.
More and more, I find it more comfortable to hang around university friends or work people than my old friends. These are people who do not care to judge me and are forgiving of my slip ups. Just the other day when my colleague told me she just passed her H3 chem done at NUS; I asked her why she didn’t just do the H3 at her school (it wasn’t offered. duh!) and a short while later I explained that H3s were much easier to do at NUS, since in my school, the distinction rate at NUS for H3 math was about 100% and the distinction rate for H3s done at RJ was about 25%. That was a pretty bad gaffe and I can only hope people didn’t notice. I certainly wasn’t trying to say anything about her, just trying to explain something else (can’t remember what).
Undoubtedly all the people who have pissed me off in the past week didn’t mean to, but they did all the same. It makes me much more reluctant to bother arranging meet-ups with anybody, and to just take what I have with my more recently made friends and run. I have no interest to meet know-it-alls and people who like to explain things to me like i’m an idiot. Especially when their explanation was not even solicited. Even worse, people who think they remember my past better than I do.
So much presumption, pretension, and insecurity. How does one leave all the bad parts of her life behind? Surely a loveless friendship is worse than a loveless marriage.
There are two ways I can think of to counter this:
a) I keep all my friends at an arm’s length so nobody feels comfortable enough to say exactly what they think, since it seems the people who do feel comfortable to speak their mind don’t bother speaking it in love.
b) I discard all my old friends and trade them in for the less pretentious, more socially apt people I met at uni/work. People who will admit freely to caring too much about trivialities and who will actually confide that they are insecure instead of pretending otherwise and bolstering their ego by putting others’ down and taking comfort in knowing more, knowing earlier (how clever of you!).
I am swiftly running out of patience. And also discovering that I really don’t give a shit about anybody’s opinions about big things. I much rather talk about ideas, neutral thought experiments, personalities, science, perhaps even relationships. Your stunning insights about politics or finance or education? You can shove them up your arse.