Over the last 5 years my definition of this word has changed.... A LOT. Last night a close friend ended up coming over and chatting with me (and Doug) until after midnight. Mostly about this exact topic.
In RI all of our friends were different, different ages, different stages of life, different political and religious views, different income levels and locations. I felt like the differences were celebrated. I loved seeing others points of view or perspectives. I loved learning from them and genuinely feeling a sense of connection with so many wonderful people. Still 6+ years later, I'm in touch with a lot of those same friends even though we've all moved to separate corners of the globe. Even meeting up with them years later, or calling for advice, it's amazing that we can pick up where we left off.
Fast forward to GA. I've had a lot of friends here over the past 6 years too. The difference between my RI friends and the GA friends I've had is that there is very little differences in who they are. Almost everyone here has the same mold. The same homes, the same family, same ages, same religion, same politics... hence, I'M THE ONE THAT'S DIFFERENT. I don't fit into any molds any more. I don't have the same politics, or the same religious family, or the same family. I say what I think and don't try to fit the mold.
Which means that I have very few friends. Now most of the people I'd once considered 'friends' are now more like acquaintances. I see them at church or activities but, the sense of connection will never be the same. I think over the course of the last few years I've felt every emotion about this possible. I've been hurt, I've been angry, I've been annoyed and I've felt judged or avoided or ignored.... So, last night the topic of friendship and acceptance came up because we were talking about the book Star Girl. The close friend was hurt for me. Doug was annoyed for me and I was finally indifferent. They pointed out ways they felt I was shunned or left-out or ignored and I was able to look at it with a different point of view.
I'm happy. My life is good. My marriage is getting so much better. My kids are happy. My job is awesome. The friendships that I do have are intensely fulfilling and gratifying. I am becoming a better person day by day and year by year. So honestly, I couldn't ask for more. I'm thankful for the friends that I do have, for the friendships that my kids have been able to foster regardless of their parents beliefs or opinions and for the realization that I am who I am regardless. I can't change for anyone. Other people might be uncomfortable by who I am or who I've become but, I can't be happy unless I'm happy for me. Fitting into the mold just isn't enough. It totally reminded me of the main character in the book but, Thanks guys, for making me realize it.