I was reading an article from Double X by Emily Bazelon about how the recession is wrecking friendships…
Because of the downturn, friendships between two people whose Saturday night spending and overall class status used to calibrate precisely have now turned into trickier relationships between one person who still has money and one person who doesn’t.The rifts between friends created by the recession are a kind of collateral damage.
While I don’t 100% identify with the article, it did make me think of how some of my friendships have changed since my situation has changed. I won’t blame the economy for not staying in touch with friends but I know that since things have been shaky with me on the job front, I’ve intentionally let some friendships slide to the back burner.
You would think that in times of stress, frustration, despair and worry (all feelings one might have when unemployed or otherwise disillusioned), you would surround yourself with people you care about. People who care about you too. You’d want to spend all your time with your pals who can help lift you up, make you laugh and remind you of all the good things in life. Eh, it’s exactly the opposite. While I miss hanging out with my friends and talking to them on the phone or online, I’d just rather not bother. I don’t want to be reminded of the good times because frankly, it just reminds me of the life I used to have. So, I’ve been avoiding folks.
Outside of job searching, blogging, random trips to Starbucks and visiting my grandfather at the nursing home, there’s not much going on with me here. Sure, there’s been the sporadic trip out of town but that’s rare. Whenever someone asks me what I’m up to or what I’ve been doing, it feels like a little tiny dagger in my soul. Problem is… EVERYONE asks those questions, especially when they haven’t seen or spoken to you in a minute. I’m just over answering them because each time I realize that I’m not doing what I want. It’s just depressing.
I’ve also been avoiding friends because I know that we can’t do some of the same things together now that we used to do before I was in the dumps. When you’re broke, you can’t go out shopping together, out to dinner, out to bars, to the movies, on trips, to concerts, etc. When you have great friends like mine, they’re sure to offer to treat you but that makes it even worse, in my opinion. It is very hard for me to accept help, even from a well-meaning friend. I would prefer not to put myself in the position to have to say, “Sorry, I can’t go. I can’t afford it,” or to have an awkward moment as I try to turn down an offer to pay for me. I feel as though my current situation is my problem and I’m cognizant of the fact that even my employed friends are feeling some kind of economic strain. I’d hate to add to that.
Finally, there are my law school friends who I haven’t spoken to since graduation. Yup, now that I think of it, I haven’t spoken to a single person I spent the last three years with since May outside of some Google Chat and Facebook messages. Wow. I can say that we haven’t spoken because most of them were busy studying for the bar exam the majority of the summer but that’s not the entire story. I’ve just avoided picking up the phone and making any calls. Since I was not totally at peace with skipping this past bar exam and I’m dealing with some feelings of being left behind by my classmates, I don’t really want to talk to them about how their lives are moving on and how mine is stagnant. I understand that this is my perception of the situation and may not be reality, but it’s all I have to go on right now. People know me as this outgoing person who is ambitious and extroverted. I don’t feel like that person right now and so I’ve decided to isolate myself for the most part. This isolation is only exacerbated by the fact that I don’t live near my friends (except for a handful of folks in town). Still, it’s worth noting that while I have indeed isolated myself, hardly anyone has reached out on their own to get in touch with me. Is that a result of my not initiating contact? Is it because other folks have also come to the conclusion that my change in circumstances makes things difficult? Have I always been the initiator in the friendships? Or is it simply out of sight, out of mind?
I’m not the fat kid at the playground, I still have friends and I suppose that this rough patch has separated the fair weather friends from those that stick with you and continue to lift you up no matter how much you want to hide behind a rock. For my friends who read my blog and haven’t heard from me in a while, I miss you, I think about you and the phone works both ways.