Week 29: Totem pole problems

I have been kind of bummed out this week. There are a few reasons for that, but mostly, lately I am feeling like the last priority. With a lot of my friends and family, near and far, I feel like I’m sitting at the bottom of the totem pole.

Here’s the thing: I am an initiator. It’s just one of those things about me. I like to do things, start things, make plans, make things happen. With my social life, this usually means I am the one who starts the games of phone tag and initiates the lunches and nights out.

Eight times out of 10, that is just fine. I get satisfaction from being an effortful, attentive friend and family member. I like keeping busy and coming up with plans. But every once in a while, it really gets me down. I feel like all the effort is on me, and I start to wonder why that is.

It’s exhausting, it’s disappointing, and it’s a slippery slope of thought. Why am I the only one trying? Does she actually want to see me? Does he care if he talks to me? If I didn’t reach out, would we be in touch? Would I ever see him? Does she miss me? Do they even care?!?

I know I shouldn’t do this. I know, at least for the most part, it’s not personal. They do want to talk, they do care, and they do want to see me. Some people just aren’t as good about keeping in touch. Some people get in their routines and forget to make plans. Some people lose track of time. Some people just want to sit on the couch. Some people have to be in the right mood for a long chat. (Me? I’m always in the mood to talk).

To be fair, I have a lot of really wonderful people in my life, and many people do make the effort and make me feel important. I am grateful for them every day. This week is just one of those weeks when an every-once-in-a-while frustration has boiled over, and though it’s unlike me, I’m feeling more negative than positive.

I want to feel like others want to spend time with me and talk to me — even if I don’t ask first. I want the people I care about to call me — not just call me back. Social media doesn’t count, and secondhand updates don’t count. I know I’m taking this too much to heart, but time and effort matter so much to me. A person’s time and attention are far and away the most valuable things he or she can give me to show I matter.

When you go through a breakup, everyone suddenly has time for you. They are worried about you and want to talk to you and call you all the time. On the one hand, that is great and so important. You need your friends at that time. On the other, why is it only then? Every time I experience that, I can’t help but think: Where are you the rest of the time? Why did you make time for me only now? Why am I on the back burner until you think I need you?

I need my friends and family and want to talk to them on good days, bad days and even days when there’s nothing much to talk about. Don’t most people feel that way? Sure, significant others come first, but I feel strongly that you never stop needing family and friends, and out of sight should not be out of mind. Everyone is busy, but just as it is with dating, even if you have a lot going on, if you truly care about and value someone, you will make the time to talk to and see her.

Am I asking for too much? I don’t think so. I don’t need to be top priority — I just want to be a priority. Do people take for granted that I will make the effort? Maybe. They wouldn’t be entirely wrong.

I certainly don’t want to sit at home by myself, so even when it bums me out, I will continue making the calls and making the plans, but here’s hoping I feel more of my effort coming back to me.

Endnotes:

Currently reading: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray

Currently watching: White Collar, season six

Song of the week: Ben Rector’s “Beautiful”

Plans for the weekend: My Connecticut roommate is moving to L.A. this week, so we are celebrating with a beach day and a big night out!

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