Diversify Your “Friendshipfolio”
I don’t do the stock market. I don’t get it, probably never will. But I have come to understand one or two concepts that seem to be important to people that are into it. And one of them is to keep one’s portfolio diversified.
In order words, make different types of investments in different sorts of things, so that the ups and downs of just one stock, or type of stock don’t make or break you. To be more quaint and cliche’ about it, have more than one basket for all of your eggs.
One of the things that I have learned the hard way in my life is that the same applies to friends. Because blog posts are always more fun to read when they contain at least one made-up word, let’s call our portfolio of friends a “friendshipfolio”.
Diversify this thing! In any way you can, as soon as you can. I don’t mean to go out and be friends with everybody of every stripe. That to me is foolhardy, and leads to superficiality. By all means hold on to your friendship standards. But put in extra effort to make friends within entirely different social circles.
Have at least two, and possibly more circles of any size. They don’t have to be huge, but make sure that they have little to zero contact with one another. Don’t invite all of them to the same parties, and don’t go out of your way to bring some overlap into the groups if it doesn’t already exist. I want you to diversify, not emulsify two groups that might not otherwise have mixed.
I advise this because I have more than once fallen victim to the instability of a stagnant friendshipfolio. I did it in college to a degree, and I have over the last few years done it again.
As I have mentioned before, I don’t go out just to “make friends”. I’m Too XYZ for that sort of thing. So I make my friends almost entirely during events or projects with which we are both involved. It is through doing, and watching other people do that I feel drawn to new friends. (And they to me.) Which is why the vast majority of my current friends as as well as the majority of my college friends are theatre people.
As a result, back then, as now, when the problems I face are with my friends, or some demographic therein, I have had no place to turn in order to vent, or to get another perspective on things. Or another perspective on people. Everyone in my group of friends has often been connected to almost every other one of them in some way. I do have more than one group, but only one, huge, lumbering one that contains local people to whom I have any regular access. So getting an in-person infusion of new blood and spirit it very difficult. So the only other choice is to stay alone when things start to sour with the group. (As they are with mine, on many different fronts.) I am no longer willing to do that all the time. (No matter how introverted I am.)
Throughout my life, I could have probably gotten better advice, learned more about myself, made it through some very painful stretches of time, gotten to different places, and just all around had a deeper, more connected experience to life had I had been in more than just the one social circle. Circles that are equal in a way, but separate enough from one another so that if things are on the edge with one, I could have support from the other.
Not to say that all the individuals within a social circle need to be the same. They don’t, and within my theatre circle they are not. But all being connected by such a common thread gives them a sort of nebulous group identity when it comes to the sort of obstacles I am facing lately. (My average “Friend in Common” number on Facebook is 25. And a few people I have close to 40 friends in common with! Those numbers are way too high for me. Too many eggs in one tiny basket.) So I long for another group sometimes, equally broad and diverse within itself, but not tied at all to the politics of the first.
Plus, sometimes I just act differently with certain groups than with others. I reveal different aspects of myself. All of them sincere. All of what I show is me, but I tend to be open with different aspects of myself with different people, and there are some aspects that just don’t get equal time because most of my friends are in the same social group.
(And no, Gen-Y, I don’t act 100% the same around everyone I come into contact with, even though you feel that you do, and that everybody should.)
This is one reason I dislike Facebook now. It takes friends that might otherwise have never connected or crossed paths, and puts them on the same platform. I sometimes find myself being bland to the point of stupid, because things I would say in front of the much larger group one would not be said in front of the smaller group B, but all of them are present equally on my Facebook, unless I make sure to block an update from each individual person before posting it. Which takes the fun out of it for me.
In the end, I must find other activities and projects in which to partake in the near and intermediate future, so I can in fact begin to form a second but local social circle. (In person contact is becoming more significant to me these days.) Because in the last two years or so large portions of my current one have begun to sour. (Or I have soured on them) and if the fruit from that vine shrivels, I will need somewhere to go. As it stands now I spend 85% of my time alone. I’ve been trying like mad to remedy that before it is too late. Which is why I am advising all of you, whoever reads or tweets this, to do the same thing.
Diversify your friendshipfolio.
Do you do this? Have you friends that don’t mix? Do you keep clear boundaries between the different social circles in which you travel, or do you prefer to have one big interconnected circle?