on friends, sleep, and being a loser

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Yes, this is a snapchat. I never made any claims to good photography—or photography at all—on this blog. So this is what you get.

This is Maria. I love her very much and I feel like she’s one of the few people who keeps me from losing it here. It took me coming to college to realize I’m not very good with friends… or people at all. (I kind of knew the latter, but I guess I deluded myself as to the former.) My roommate put it well when she said that friends are difficult at college because you’re starting from scratch and have to put so much energy into keeping up all these new relationships. The problem is this: I only have so much time and so many hands I can use to juggle and sometimes I stop paying attention. Friendship just happened in my past, I didn’t have to think about it. I wonder if I don’t think about it enough here. Or maybe I think about it too much.

Perhaps I was socially stunted by being homeschooled. Getting out of my room is still a challenge for me—not even kidding. It’s not that I like being shut up in here by myself going stir crazy from loneliness, it’s that I forget that I have to go seek out my friends. College is weird. (Real life is weird, rather, since most normal people are used to going outside on a regular basis. Revision: I’m weird.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends since Sunday. I had my first orchestra concert of my college career (I’m a cellist) and of my friends, only Maria came. It upset me pretty badly, and I’ve been mulling things over ever since—

Did I downplay how important is was to me?
Am I just not worth an hour of anybody’s time?
Is it possible that I’m just never going to have friends here like my best friends far away?

This thought process led to a few things, including an episode this evening in which I deliberately shoved at everyone I ran into, attempting to pick a fight so I could just tear apart somebody (anybody) in a fit of melodrama over my poor injured soul. But there were positive outcomes to all of this—surprise, surprise. (See, Mom, I’m being positive. Be proud.)

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This is Phil. I know, I’m creative with snapchat captions. Really, though, it’s snapchat. Nobody’s expecting a masterwork of literary craftmanship.

Phil is one of my best friends, and he lives miles and miles away from me. My life is this paradox in which the people closest to me emotionally (etc) are physically the farthest away. (Thankfully this has been ruined a little bit in that my roommate is one of my best friends; but Rose, the third of my trio, is basically in Antarctica—i.e. Indiana. So it’s kind of terrible.) When I struggle with my friends here at college—by which I mean when I wonder if I even have any friends—I revert back into this little hole of Philip and Rose, and how everything would be magical and rainbow infested if they were here or I were with them instead of being separated by this massive chasm of distance.

Frankly, this is emotional laziness. I mean this in two ways. The first, I’m being too selfish and stubborn to see what I actually have in my friends who aren’t here. The second, I’m using them as a crutch to avoid the effort of new friends. Writing this makes me feel like a loser—I probably am a loser—but the goal is to quit being a loser, so here goes.

(I’m seriously overusing the em dash right now, I apologize.)

I realized that however bad things feel, how much worse would the situation be without my long distance friends? I take their presence for granted; the fact that I can text them whenever and always have their love and support goes unnoticed as I fixate on the fact that they’re not here. I’m lucky to have them at all, regardless of location. This is a lot harder to emotionally process, obviously, but when I sit here and put all my attention into missing them then of course things feel a lot harder than if I actually spent a second appreciating them.

Along a similar vein, I sit here thinking nobody can ever live up to these friends I already have, so why bother. That’s stupid, too, since in the first place nobody is meant to replace anybody else, but even if they were, that doesn’t mean other people aren’t worth my time. I’m a social person! I need people or I’m unhappy—so I can’t sit here despairing that I’ll never find anyone good enough, because as I’m writing this I know it’s not true. I do have friends here and they’re wonderful. I just have to go out and find them, which for some reason is a struggle. I’m getting better. Friendship is a two way street, and I can’t just demand people be friends with me without making an effort for them.

That’s where sleep comes in. At the beginning of the year, my logic professor pulled me and a few other freshmen aside and told us that all successful people has been through a time in their lives when they were low on sleep, working too much, and sacrificing a “well-rounded lifestyle” for the sake of their achievements. He said that now is the time to invest in our education, and that it’s better to be tired than a loser. Better to be losing sleep in the interest of learning more, having great experiences, and growing as a person. “There is nothing worse than being a well-rested loser, because then you’ve failed and you don’t even know what you could have done.” This is true for academics, but I’m finding it’s also true for friends. We’ve all seen that cliché whiney triangle that challenges us to “choose two: good grades, social life, or sleep”. I’ve found that friends are hard work—who would have thought?—and that a lot of times it’s worth it to go to class a little underprepared or running on only four hours of sleep, because you made some great memories in the process.

I don’t want to journey alone. I don’t journey alone—there are people in the world who care about me, and I care about them, both near and far, both as natural as breathing or still taking a little elbow grease to make things work. But they’re all worth the time, the lack of sleep, the heartache… They’re worth it and they think I’m worth it, too. I ought to remember that.

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2 thoughts on “on friends, sleep, and being a loser

  1. Great post, Han. 🙂 I forget sometimes that it’s worth losing a little sleep to spend more time with friends. (But also: I can’t believe your prof told you it was better to be tired in order to get more work done. All my professors here have spent my college education hounding me about the opposite.)

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