Sunday, January 3, 2016

Community Member

... life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.

Excerpt from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie


When Parties Become Bummers

I've been feeling inadequate lately. I mean, more than usual.

I was at a holiday work party, and a friend told me that he didn't trust me as much as he once did. Apparently, what started this feeling of his was my avoidance of the monthly office birthday celebrations. Somehow he got the idea that I had promised to attend them all, as if that mattered, and because I haven't attended for ages his respect for me has diminished.

The whole thing is silly, but it cut me to learn that my friendships were so easily lessened.

He told me that he doesn't know me anymore, and that I should subject myself to the office birthday celebrations so that people could know me better. It reminded me of a quote that I heard in a show once:

"There's a selfishness to the silence of the cowboy. It forces others to carry the conversation."

At face value, I agree with this. Everyone is selfish in his own way. But no one, not even the silent ones, are forcing anyone else to carry a conversation. That's a choice. If you feel forced, then don't do it. If you want to get to know me, then talk with me. Don't make me attend some ridiculous office birthday party. I want to get to know my friends better, but it isn't going to happen there.

I often feel that the situation is hopeless. But this is what I need to accept. It's difficult to find a balance between too much and not enough in the friendship domain, or anywhere else for that matter. The very act of trying to find a balance is a selfish thing, and everyone does it. I'm not the only one being selfish, and I need to accept that I'm not going to live in an ideal world: ever. If I can get close, that would be amazing.

Until then, I've got to stop from feeling that I'm not good enough. I'll never be what everyone else wants.