Last week, a very interesting conversation ensued on Twitter (with those awesome ladies). A conversation about blogging, about connecting, what it means to comment and reach out, and what it feels like if the effort is a one-way street.
I have A LOT of thoughts on this, to say the least.
I’ve never felt so welcome and connected and ignored and disconnected at the same time as I have felt through blogging. This must sound very melodramatic, I am sure, but don’t tell me that you haven’t felt the same at some point during your blogging experience.
It’s the greatest feeling in the world, when you find a blog that speaks to you and where you feel like the person behind the blog is a long lost soulmate, because you find you have so much in common and you think so much alike and it cannot be that you’re NOT going to be friends. Well, and then you start commenting and trying to connect with this person and … nothing. You don’t get anything back. This can be especially discouraging if you see a group of online friends forming (and a lot of us are interconnected these days, or so it seems) and you’re not part of that group. You feel ignored and left out and it’s a pretty tough place to be. Even more so for someone like me who pretty much lived most of my life trying to be friends with everyone.
I realize (now) that this has always been a pretty hopeless endeavor, because let’s face it, you can’t be friends with everyone. Still, a naive part of me insisted that we can at least all get along, we can at least be friendly with each other. I still kinda believe that.
But the point is: I have to accept that not everybody wants to be friends with me. And moreover, that this is totally ok. If I am really honest with myself, I don’t really want to be friends with everyone either. I like the concept of it, – yes, let’s all be friends and have tea! And cupcakes! – but in all reality, it’s not even humanly possible to be friends with everyone. (I am an overachiever, can you tell?)
According to the Meyers Briggs Personality test, I am a INFJ (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging – The protector). Apparently, that’s the rarest personality type of all (only 1% of the population is INFJ), but I’d actually rather call myself an introverted ENFJ (Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging – The giver). If you are familiar with the personality types (and if you know me a little bit), you’d agree that this is fitting.
While I would consider myself an introvert in many regards, I am definitely all about other people and their needs. I am a people pleaser, helper, and giver. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to make other people happy, to help and support friends. However, I always tend to put other people’s feelings and needs above my own and if there is a conflict, I first try to find the fault in my own behavior and go to great length to “fix” whatever seems to be the problem. This is surely the reason why I somewhat expect to be on good terms with everyone and why I can’t understand when I get the cold shoulder.
While I know all this and can rationalize it, I still more often than not feel lost when relationships with people don’t work out. It’s a part of my personality that I really have to work on, because it leaves me disappointed and frustrated so many times for no good reason other than the fact that I obviously can’t deal with rejection/being ignored. Since I can’t make people like me and I can only work on reacting to situations like this differently, I came up with some good advice for myself (and maybe some of you, who struggle with this):
1) Be yourself. Always. If I have learned one thing, then it is that you can only “put up a front” for so long. Sometimes, especially when you meet new people, we think we have to show them the “best version” of ourselves in order to leave a good impression, but it can be pretty exhausting to do or say things that we think we might have to say so other people will like us. And then sometimes, that is still not enough. So, in the long run, we’re better off with just being ourselves, even if that means that some relationships with people will not work out (or even take off).
2) Don’t beat yourself up. There is really no point (in fact, it’s a waste of mental energy) in putting yourself down if a relationship doesn’t work out. It takes two, you know?! If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, then you don’t want to be their friend either. Simple as that (or so I wish).
3) Accept rejection for what it is (a fact of life) and don’t take things personally. Sometimes I think that I must have done something wrong if people don’t respond to me the way I want them to, but I frequently tend to forget that there can be a gazillion different reasons for this and not one single one of them has necessarily to do with me. Maybe the relationship is just not meant to be. Ask yourself why you’re so disappointed/hurt when people don’t reciprocate the interest that you show in them. Is it really about them (which it surely sometimes can be) or is it about yourself? Do you really need this person’s approval to feel good about yourself?
4) Move on. If you gave something a fair shot and you still don’t get anything back in return, let it go. Move on to people who do respond to you and who make you feel worthwhile. (Yeah, that is a tough one for me, as I often overanalyze why I can’t make it work with certain people. If we mutually feel indifferent about each other, it’s usually not a big deal, but if I feel a connection and the other person doesn’t, well, how can I say this? It just blows. Also, I might need some time to nurse my bruised ego.)
5) Appreciate and cherish the friendships that do work out. Sometimes I forget all the great friendships that have formed through blogging. It’s really disproportionate how one failed relationship can weigh me down so much that I forget about the three new people that I have befriended during the same time. It’s all about getting your priorities straight and focusing on the good relationships.
In life you will realize that there is a purpose for
everyone you meet. Some will test you,
some will use you, and some will teach you.
But most important are the ones that bring out the best
in you. Those are the ones worth keeping around.
So yeah, theoretically I got it all figured out, but practically I am still a work in progress.