On Choosing and Being Chosen

Since this blog is no longer about anything in particular, please allow me to spill my guts in the most embarrassing but necessary way.

Many of you who know me irl have heard me talk about choosing versus being chosen. It’s sort of like my version of mindful friendship. It’s the idea that in your life you should take stock from time to time of whether you have chosen your relationships or whether you’ve just allowed yourself to be chosen. There’s no right answer to this. Ideally you should be both in all your relationships – chosen and choosing. It’s actually funny that I am obsessed with this concept because I am decidedly unbalanced. I am absolutely a chooser. This isn’t always a bad thing. But anyway, let me tell you a story that demonstrates what I mean by this entire concept and which also explains my weird relationship with it.

I have a friend that I only met in September but who is definitely going to become a member of the “inner circle” if she isn’t already. We really click and she and I seem to share a lot of the same ideas about the importance of friendship and, given that, we’ve decided that we’ll meet once a week for lunch. It’s perfect. She only works a block from her house so I usually make a lunch and bring it over to her house and we just shoot the shit, talk books, etc.

When we met this last week for lunch, my friend could tell that something was a little off (I’m the worst liar. EVERYTHING shows on my face). I hemmed and hawed a bit but eventually came clean. I was feeling a bit conflicted at the moment regarding an ex-friend. I had broken off contact with this person back in the summer (yeah, that one I wrote about) but had recently had to contact her regarding some leftover business concerning a mutual friend who had died. It had been a huge struggle for me to do that and basically kind of broke me for a few days. After that, I spent some days wondering if maybe I should try to repair things with this person. After all, it was me who broke off the friendship so shouldn’t I be the one to reach out? But then again, did I really want to reestablish contact?

Thank God my new friend is a therapist. Rather than give me a direct opinion, she asked me a series of questions about what I wanted to get out of this and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure. I mean, I wasn’t sure I could really trust this person to be a friend again so why the hell did I want to do this? It took a few more questions for me to realize why. I wanted to reestablish contact in the idiotic hope that she might be willing to hear how I felt about our past friendship. Ironically, I wanted to reestablish contact to get closure.

What my friend pointed out and what I came to realize is that I was never going to get closure. I was never going to be heard. And that’s because this past friendship was not one that my ex-friend had ever chosen. The friendship was entirely Autumn-chosen and Autumn-driven. That’s not to say that this person may not have cared about me in her way but, ultimately, I was not a person she actively chose to have in her life. We hung out when I asked. We talked when I texted. When she was in pain, I tried to help. When I was in pain, there was silence. When she needed help, I did everything I could. When I needed help, I got a sympathetic ear but no follow through. I do want to pause to point out that this all makes her sound like a bad person but that isn’t the case. The problem is that I chose someone who was not in a situation or had the emotional capacity to choose me back. This person has an extraordinary capacity for greatness that will, unfortunately, always be held back by fear and I just never realized how severe it was. So, ultimately I decided that I didn’t want to contact her again. It would just be too painful and, to be honest, she probably hates me anyway. But most of all, my contacting her would be just another instance of me reaching out and trying to choose.

But this is just one example of my overall problem and I suspect that I’m not the only outgoing person to have it. People like me reach for things we want.  If I see an opportunity, I grab it. Why not? Who else is going to get it for me? If I meet someone I find interesting, I’m going to tell them I’d like to be friends. That’s how it works when you’re a bit of an alpha female! But the downside is that you have a tendency to rarely be chosen. Whether it’s because people are intimidated by your personality or because you choose people who aren’t emotionally available, you tend to know a lot of people without being deeply connected to many. What seems like a positive and confident quality has its shadow side. But what’s the alternative? I’m not about to stop reaching for what I want and need. I’m a white-trash small town girl who has had to be as forward as possible to get what opportunities I could. And I don’t regret the way I am, I just wish it didn’t have to entail loneliness.

Not all is bad though. Clearly my new friend is awesome!* But the truth is that I’m hesitant now. I’m worried about sharing myself with someone and having them betray my trust, which is ridiculous since she’s the sweetest and most conscientious person ever. But didn’t I think the same about my ex-friend? I’m usually pretty open but I find that it’s taking more effort now and that is what I hate most. I’m furious that this whole situation has made me want to draw inside myself. That’s exactly NOT what the world needs more of, nor does it suit me at all.

So, what do I do now? I realize that I can’t just stop being me, nor do I want to. But I’m also tired of playing God and wondering who might actually be actively choosing to have me in their life. For me, I suppose, the answer is to keep my head down and focus on my work. Things just are the way they are and I just am the way I am. I have never been good at suppressing myself so why bother? Knowing me, I’ll keep choosing and maybe, someday, I’ll be chosen too.

 

*I’d like to mention that I have other awesome friends as well. What I describe is more a general trend in my life.

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