Serial De-Friender

I’ve had a lot of friends in my life. I’ve had a lot of best friends, mostly. And these friends I’ve had over the years have all been wonderful humans in their own respects, yet in the ‘prime’ of my life I find myself with only a handful of people I consider close friends. I can count on three fingers the people I consider dearest to me, excluding those blood-bound to love me.

I’ve been analyzing my life a lot, as I tend to do, and looking for negativity to eliminate from it. I try to be happy, as hard as it seems to be, and so I try to keep the stresses to a minimum. As these analyses usually point out, stress seeps from every corner my life, even among those ‘close friends’ I have. A pretty common trend in my behavior is distancing myself from people, whether intentionally or not, as soon as my over-critical mind catches wind of something problematic.

I could list the amount of people I’ve cut out of my life and go into detail about how I was justified in removing them and why I’m better off without them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem must be with me. I can’t have as long a list of ex-besties as I do without some fault landing on my shoulders.

This introspective look at my serial de-friending comes, perhaps obviously, at what seems to be another of my ending relationships. I can feel myself slowly and systematically ostracizing someone in my life, consciously pushing her away but completely incapable of stopping myself. Or maybe unwilling to stop.

So as I continue to watch our connection fizzle out, I can’t help but wonder what it is that prompts my need to snip the strings of my relations. I spent a lot of time telling myself that I got bored with people easily, and it made enough sense. But the endings never really occur in a lull. Another part of me believes that it must be my depression kicking in and I’m just pushing people out as a response to the impending doom. Like a cat when her life is ending, finding a hiding place to pass on alone. I’ve been in a stellar mood lately though, so how can I blame my depression? Is it insecurity, then? Not feeling worthy of love? Is it a source of control for me, in my never-ending struggle to have a handle on every facet of my life? A defense mechanism? Or something else completely?

People who maintain close friends for years and years astound me. “You’ve been friends for how long? Wow, I’ve only known most of my friends for a year!” It’s a common statement. I think the largest period of time I’ve considered a person my ‘best friend’ was for four or five years, tops. And a less-than-best friend that I maintain contact with is even rarer. As many times as I’ve promised to stay in someone’s life forever, I have a hard time making it past a two year mark. Maybe I’m just not meeting people that fit into my life, or maybe I’m one of those malformed puzzle pieces myself, a factory defect that can’t fit into the place I was meant to go. Maybe I just have commitment issues.

“You’re a ticking time bomb. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells with you.” I’ve heard that twice in my life, almost verbatim, from two very different friends, at very different stages in my life. Further evidence that it’s me that is the problem with my friendships.

So, what am I doing? Why can’t I see myself as the countdown nears zero and the people around me tiptoe away across a sea of eggs shells? (Which, by the way, really makes no sense. Why would you tiptoe across shells of eggs? Aren’t the eggs already broken? Another time, Tucker, another time.)

No matter how many times I tell myself ‘it’ll be different this time,’ it never is. Even when I see it coming.

To all of the ex-best-friends that I’ve pushed away, however I managed to f*ck things up, I’m sorry for whatever I did (or didn’t do). And no matter how many times I promise to remedy our broken friendship and don’t follow through, know that you’re really not missing anything new.

Temporarily Yours,
Tucker

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The Bad and The Ugly

I once made a post about the downfalls of being sick while working in the service industry. Now I’d like to expand on that and talk about all the little things that can make serving a living hell. I’m aware that every job comes with it’s own set of bullsh*t, headaches, and frustration. But the restaurant business is unique in a lot of ways that I don’t think many people understand.

Finance

Being a server means you’re never going to have a steady income. When you literally rely on the kindness of strangers to make your rent, you’re always going to be a little on edge about your finances. If you find a good place, there are nights when you’re going to go home with upwards of $200 in your pocket. A good week could mean that you can pay all your bills, buy a whole new winter wardrobe, go out to eat several times, buy groceries, and afford all the cigarettes you need.

Conversely, a bad week could find you eating only at work, buying Pall Malls instead of Spirits, and having to borrow money to afford a roof over your head. I won’t even mention medical bills and any loans you might have to pay off. You learn to just expect things will go into collection. And you never know which kind of week you’re going to get. Even if you’re good at saving money (which I wouldn’t pretend to be under threat of death), you might just have to clear out your savings to afford to live.

Social Life

Working in a restaurant means you’re never going to have the same schedule as anyone else. If your friend works a 9-5, the only way you’re going to see them is if they come in for a drink and you serve them. If your parents need help on a certain day, and you haven’t requested it off, chances are you won’t be able to assist them. Vacations? Forget it. Spontaneous roadtrips? Not if you want to keep your job. You forget that weekends are meant for relaxing.

And chances are, even if you manage to make plans with someone, it’s going to be after work. And what do most servers want to do after work? De-stress to the max. For me, this means Netflix, couch, hot tea, and no human contact. After a long day of pretending I like people, I don’t have it in me to actually like anyone. (This might just be my issue as an introvert, but I think others can relate).

This also makes relationships difficult to manage. I’m lucky in that when I met my boyfriend, he and I worked in the same place and had similar schedules. We could see each other at work, we could go home together, and head back in the morning. I think a big part of why so many people in the service industry end up dating the people they work with is because their partners GET IT. Not to mention, you just don’t have time to go out and meet someone else. Yeah, you might be able to head to the bar after your shift but the people you meet there are less than desirable for long-term companionship.

Physical Health

If you’re a server, you’re on your feet all the goddamn time. Sitting happens on the toilet, and it’s usually a rushed experience. So you’ll be hard pressed to meet a server without back problems (or leg, muscle, joint problems). Even I, at my tender young age, feel like I’m 115 years old after a long week.

You’re also constantly at risk of exposure to injury or illness. Sick people come in, and you have to clear their plates and glasses. You might slice a finger. You might be carrying four burning hot plates at once, and plate burn is no joke. I have scars from three years ago all over my arms. And then there’s the heavy lifting. Have you ever tried carrying three ice buckets up a flight of stairs? It’s not easy, and more often than not, it’s painful. This circles back to the back. My spine is probably missing a couple vertebrae at this point.

Mental Health

Serving takes a huge emotional toll.

Coping Methods

And here’s where it gets kind of serious. I’ve found that most people who work in the service industry will have some kind of addiction. Nicotine is most common, and I know I wouldn’t smoke nearly as much as I do if I didn’t have a serving job, but that’s not nearly the worst of it. It can be really easy to start de-stressing with a drink after work, and it can become such a habit that soon you find you can’t do without it. There is a similar story with other depressants. Or you might try a stimulant one day because you’re just so exhausted that you feel like you might die. And do it again the next day, and the next.  (Disclaimer: I am not personally addicted to anything besides cigarettes and coffee, but I know enough and have seen enough to be able to put myself in the shoes of a service industry addict.)

There are benefits to working in a restaurant (look forward to a companion post!), but oftentimes they are overshadowed by the exhaustion of being broke, sick, tired and emotionally drained. It’s not an easy job, and anyone who thinks it is hasn’t done it.

Your Empty Shell of a Blogger,

Arina