It’s natural to mythologize memories, especially good ones. They become the BEST events EVER, the BEST friends, the MOST fun. The further away we are from the events or people, sometimes the more mythologized they become. When something happens to remind you that they weren’t actually that great, it can be really depressing. You would think that after experiencing it once, you would learn not to do it again but obviously I am a sucker for punishment.
When I was 15, my family moved from South Africa to Australia. At the time, I hadn’t been entirely happy at school – I had gone through a 3 month period where my “friends” decided not to talk to me at all, which made for very lonely days. I had pestered my parents to let me change schools and I had just been accepted into a new private school for the new school year. And then we moved and I was not impressed. But within weeks of moving, suddenly I missed my “amazing” friends (if by amazing I mean bitchy and obnoxious) and I’d NEVER find friends like that again (which my mother was probably ecstatic about) and my life was terrible. We planned a trip back to South Africa at the end of the year and I spent the year looking forward to it and building it up.
Needless to say, it was a disaster. My friends were excited to see me for about a day and then I became a third wheel. The intervening year had changed me – I had experienced life beyond the school and neighbourhood they “owned” and I suddenly realised how screwed up my life had been. I realised that they had not been such awesome friends at all. That trip allowed me to move on completely and settle into my new life.
And now I’m experiencing that again. Not with my friends here – they’re being great. It’s with my friends in Melbourne and it’s strange because I LEFT Melbourne because I knew I was stagnating with my social life and work life, so inherently I knew that my friends were not great, with the exception of one or two. I knew this and still it seems I mythologized them to some extent and now I’m coming up for air.
I sent out an evite for my engagement party a few weeks ago. My parents are throwing one for us and they’re very excited. So I sent out the evite, giving people plenty of notice. Half have responded positively, some haven’t responded at all and some have responded very weirdly. A sample response which I got today:
“I may have other plans but if the weather is bad, I’ll be there”
Gee thanks! I SO appreciate that I’m obviously second choice depending on the weather. Should I praying for terrible weather? Thunderstorms? I know she didn’t intend for that to be my reaction but still. Surely there are times when friends ENGAGEMENTS should trump or being tactful should trump telling the absolute truth? Honestly, I would have preferred “I’m not able to make it that day, could I see you the day before?” instead of feeling like I am an obvious second choice.
But the more and more I think about it, the less it surprises me. I remind myself that a lot of the people I was friends with were friends through friends and really, how much did I honestly think of them while I was here? It’s a good lesson in letting go of the memories and remembering the reality. Instead of highlighting the laughs and fun times only, remember those plus the times when we didn’t get along or we didn’t see each other for weeks. Remember that and it won’t hurt so much.