“What is it with you two?”
A friend recently asked that about the tenuous friendship between myself and another friend. There was just something about this friendship where I know we can enjoy each others company, but I always walk away feeling… something. Something not right.
I’d been thinking a lot about it lately, and had recently come to the conclusion that we’d be inextricably linked through one way or another for the next few years and that I had little choice but to make the best of it I could. I could only control me.
This friend and I hung out recently. As we parted ways, I even commented to Scott that it was a really good night, the type that reminds you of why you’re friends with someone. I didn’t even have a tirade of smart-ass comments like I always tend to have. Sure, not every conversation went smoothly, and I did have a moment where I wasn’t as succinct as I liked, but overall a good night.
But as I was rocking a wound up baby to sleep, I started thinking about the night. Wait, what about that comment? What about this one? And when I said that, and she replied that, did that mean that? Within 20 minutes, I found myself thinking “Well it turns out it wasn’t as good of a night after all!” I was still in a foul mood when I put C into her crib and returned to Scott.
Barely half an hour had passed, and my mood had shifted dramatically. My attitude had shifted dramatically. But the events of the night did not shift at all.
The only thing that had changed was me.
This friendship brings up all my insecurities. It makes a large degree of sense when I look at our backgrounds. We have similar education and work experience, and parallel careers that may sometimes place us in the awkward position of competing with each other while simultaneously working together. Some of that competition is going to run into the personal realm. When I’m with her, I’m constantly viewing her as an opponent, always looking for her weaknesses, always ending up finding my own.
It’s not healthy. It takes me from being the calm, confident adult that invites people over for dinner to being a defensive twenty-something who is always being overly dramatic. And as long as I keep up this competition, I’m not going to be able to move forward.
It’s inevitable that there will be some times when we will be in a position of comparison. Without making major career changes, and cutting out entire groups of friends, there will be no avoiding it. If I want to keep growing in both my personal and work life, then I have to stop seeing “the same” and “different” in terms of “better” and “worse”.