succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, September 23, 2005

Chosen Families

There seems to be a fair amount of nostalgia going around. I finally came across the journal entry I scribbled while home a couple of weeks ago, after catching the tail end of "Kicking and Screaming," about how movies about the end of college or the years immediately following college make me both nervous and nostalgic. Nervous because I can remember so clearly watching those characters and thinking of them as grown-ups, despite the fact that they were depicting ages a mere couple of years older then me. And now we've all reached those places, in one way or another, and I figure I'll never really feel grown up, but still, something about this particular life stage sort of freaks me out.

And Sid just got to have a reunion of sorts in OH, so it was nice to catch up on people via his blog, even if it did make me feel guilty for almost completely losing touch with the vast majority of that group...

And Carrie comments that often what we need, and get, from our closest friendships is the ability to take them for granted. So that both our chosen and our biological families are 'stuck with us' in the sense that we can, from time to time, take advantage of their love and support for our own stength without sacrificing the relationship.

Which finally gets me around to the epiphany of sorts that I had this afternoon. I've long known that I weigh my friends' opinions above my own, particularly when it comes to other potential friends or dates. If I bring a boy home and my friends disapprove, he almost immediately becomes less attractive (and conversely, if I come home from a date feeling luke warm about someone and my friends rave about him, he immediately gets bumped up in my own estimation). To a certain extent this is due to the repeatedly reinforced impression that I have terrible intuition when it comes to people and that I'm better off relying on trusted friends to clue me in to 'bad' people. (I'll eventually reach the same conclusion, it just takes me longer, so believing others' opinions is just a shortcut to the same end) But at least part of this is also due to my unwillingness to test my support system - if things within my group of friends are functioning well, and I've just introduced someone to the mix that the group dislikes, it's far less scary to simply sacrifice the new person and side with the group. But if I take a moment to think about the other side, to remember all the times that other members of the group made decisions we thought were 'bad' or entered into relationships we didn't favor, I would remember that we still stood by that person. The whole point of good friendships is that they let you make mistakes, and help you right them afterwards, with minimal judgement. I know this. And yet somehow I haven't made much use of it in the past.

What I'm trying to work out, rather obtusely, is that I'm starting to navigate a new, rather ill-defined friendship/relationship that I'm a little wary of but feel like I'm going into with my eyes open. I have a tendency to avoid potentially messy relationships, and while I'm a magnet for the ill-defined date I always take myself out of the equation before it turns into an ill-defined relationship. A practice which has protected me from a certain amount of hurt, but also from quite a bit of potential fun. So here I am, taking babysteps towards this thing, which, frankly, has quite a bit of potential for me to get hurt...but looks like a damn bit of fun in the process.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The literary journal that educated adults gleam their information through is called honesty. Through that, everyone has their share of fun and no one gets hurt.

Make your choices based on those your gut has allready marked for your, as you have a good gut. Trust in fate to skew everything else into proportion.

No one really notices the contrast between white on white, unless they ask.

Cheers kiddo

3:00 AM  
Blogger Carrie Shanafelt said...

There was an extremely good article by Jeanette Winterson about chosen families in the Guardian today:,16371,1576859,00.html
As Blake might say (shoot me), "The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship." Your home is one you make for yourself, piece by piece, over time. You may have to rebuild it as parts of it are lost. It is as comfortable as you make it for yourself. And the best part is, it isn't a home you're born into and stuck with.

9:10 AM  

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