As I look back on the friends that I have had in my life, I have always had different groups of friends.
Elementary School: Sunday School friends. School friends.
Middle School: Church friends. School friends.
High School: Church friends. Neighborhood friends. Band friends. Popular friends. Awkward crowd friends.
College: Band friends. Chapel friends. Home friends. Dorm friends.
Post College to Late 20’s: College friends. Work friends.
Early 30’s: Church friends. Hubby’s friends. Work friends.
Mid-late 30’s: Church friends. Non-religious friends.
Now: BFF. Acquaintances.
It didn’t seem to get any better with age. I still had groups of friends, but I still had parts of myself that were hidden. Maybe it was the church friends who had no idea of the sexual appetite that I had in my life or that I wasn’t against smoking pot. Maybe it was another group who didn’t realize that I still wanted to have a relationship with God despite my more wild side. Maybe the groups overlapped in physical spaces, but there wasn’t much else. I got really good at showing only the side of myself that I knew that group would already knew about. The times I remember trying to cross over between the groups…it didn’t work…I always felt like I had to choose if I wanted to be accepted. What side of myself did I want to show them?
I don’t want to be with the crowds that make me choose one part of me over the other. But having multiple sides to myself has always allowed me to protect myself. If one group doesn’t like me, then I can just go to the other group and be with them.
I know that I still have different sides to myself. But I am slowly coming to realize that I don’t want to have to change myself to fit the crowd that I’m with. Maybe that means that rather than multiple groups of friends now, I have a smaller number. But a smaller number that is okay with who I am…okay with my flaws, my constant questioning, and my own mental struggles.
HOWEVER, this idea of having a small number is TERRIFYING!!! What if? What if something happens and I lose those people? What if they decide they can’t handle me? What if they decide that me trying to figure myself is a rollercoaster they don’t want to ride anymore? What if they drop me because I’m not a person they believe in anymore? If I only have a small number of people…I have no where to turn when things go wrong. I’ve done it for decades as a way to try and protect myself. But I’m not so sure that I have been protecting myself as much as hiding myself.