We think we know who we are. Who beside ourselves better understands our true essence and what fundamentally makes us tick? Yet how often do we yearn for someone to “get us?” We want that so badly in a partner. For many it is a life journey to seek and to find that individual to know us almost as much as we know ourselves. And truth be told – we are barking up the wrong tree.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a Friends and Family book launch of a very dear and long-time buddy of mine. It was a wonderful event attended by many people I also knew from countless years ago. And then I saw Janice (name changed). Janice and I met and became good friends in residence at Carleton University. We traveled in the same circles during our time at Carleton. Although we both live in Toronto we had seen each other only a couple of times since then. Once, at a funeral in Quebec City for a terribly young mutual friend who tragically died in a cycling accident ever so shortly after we finished our studies in Ottawa. I had forgotten that Janice and I, accompanied by additional friends, made that long drive together from Ottawa to the funeral. Janice reminded me of that. The years then separated us – temporarily forgetting one another. And then Facebook arrived. For many of our generation, it has become a primary channel to reawaken and reconnect past relationships. These rekindled relationships often took on a diminished status, lacking the intensity of what they once were – yet the nostalgia was too powerful a force to ignore. So Janice and I became reacquainted on Facebook and once again became “friends”. However, it became immediately apparent that something had changed – something quite different from our past. Janice and I found ourselves, via our Facebook posts and replies, on opposite ends of the political spectrum – she on the left and me on the right. Unfortunately, our political differences and those of some of her friends and I clashed rather badly. This new form of “friendship” was strained and could not withstand the acrimony – nostalgia was no match for enmity.
I was genuinely pleased and relieved to see Janice at this momentous event. We exchanged pleasantries, I introduced her to my date, and I was overwhelmed at the opportunity to make amends. I told my date how Janice and I were former Facebook friends but due to my poor and now regrettable attitude I expressed on Facebook several years ago, we severed that friendship. Janice also reminded me that it was her decision to “unfriend” me! “You were mean. You were not the Stu I used to know. What happened to him?” she sadly reflected.
I am grateful that Janice gave me an opportunity to provide her with insights into my journey of self-awareness and self-discovery over these past few years. My date was catching elements of this for the first time as well – which was quite cool to observe out of the corner of my eye. Janice heard my sincere contrition. She felt it in my voice and saw it in my eyes. At least I hope that is an accurate observation.
We think we know ourselves. Sometimes we don’t know ourselves as much as we believe. But it is never too late to relearn and to discover that beautiful lesson.
And yes – Janice and I are once again Facebook friends – and hopefully to become real friends once again. Thank you “Janice.”