There often comes a point in one’s life when you stop putting so much value on your parents approval. Some people never reach this point, while others discover this early on in their life. For me I discovered the lesson when I was twenty-two years old. I was away at college dealing with another life lesson. Sometimes even when you feel like you are true friends with a person, it can be a lie you tell yourself because all you really want is for people to ‘like’ you.
I was in my second year of college. The first year I loved the college I was attending, and met so many wonderfully awesome people who I became great friends with. Unlike in high school I never had to ask permission if I wanted to do something. I just did it, if I wanted. I was becoming independent. I was an adult after all. When I went back the second year I was excited. In the beginning, things were great. Or so they seemed. I started hanging out with a new friend named Jennifer. Now she was someone I knew the year before, and had been friendly with. However, the second year we started doing everything together. I had a car my second year of school, and was always willing to help a friend out taking them to places off campus. I can’t say Jen and I didn’t have fun. We had a blast. I discovered how much fun going to a gay bar and drag show could be. It was liberating doing something, my parents might frown upon. Now along with Jen came her gay best friend. So, I drove the three of us everywhere. If I found myself feeling lonely or bored even, I could always call Jen and we would go jauntting off on some great adventure. The lesson soon to come was when I started passing out in class for no reason. It was scary not knowing what was wrong, and not having my family around to help. I would rather hang out with my friends than do any school work, and so my grades suffered. I could never say no when I was asked to join some of my friends who were going out. Mostly we did silly things like going to the 24hr Wendy’s and spending hours playing card games in the booth. Or other times we would drive to the closest city and go dancing. I was the typical college student, going to a school in a small town.
It took me until the summer to understanding why I was having what seemed to be seizures, but weren’t. All the tests kept coming back normal. It wasn’t something that happened everyday, but definitely once every other week or so. In the summer I discovered that I had an anxiety disorder that showed itself in the form of pseudoseizures. I would later learn how to manage my stress. Something I didn’t know anything about my sophomore year of school.
Have you ever known a person who gets satisfaction from causing problems among a group? It’s as if they thrive from the drama they create. This was Jen. I can remember many times when I would hear about some trivial conflict which blew up into an argument within the group of friends I was part of. I discovered by the end of the year I had been taking on other people’s worry. Growing up I was often the peace keeper in my family. I would smooth out the arguments among my siblings. I took on this role in college. Every time there was conflict, you could count on me to try to smooth things over. Playing this part hurt me in the long run though. Maybe being a peacemaker among three siblings is easier than when more people are involved. I now know that was one of my main sources of stress my sophmore year. I valued what everyone thought about me. I wanted to be accepted. I struggled in my teen years with feeling like an outsider. So, being the peacemaker was a way to be inside. In some ways Jen helped me by creating the drama I would try to fix. Yet, it all got to be too much. The only thing I could do to change things was to walk away from a friendship. When I did this I started seeing how Jen had been manipulating me, and using me. I also learned she had stolen from me. Or at least I suspected that she had stolen from me when she got caught stealing from someone else.
I had up to this point often avoided confrontation. The day I confronted Jen’s bff, who had become a dear friend to me, was the first time I ever faced a fear so head on. It gave me the courage to keep going, so I confronted Jen. I ended our so-called friendship, and never regretted it. I don’t want you to think I am blaming her for all my problems at that time, because I had been willing to play the role. It’s just when a person or people are a source of negativity, the only way to get rid of it sometimes is to cut the source off. There is enormous power in recognizing this.
After all of this happened, I started to see how I was afraid to tell my mother how unhappy I was. I was afraid of disappointing her. Her’s was the one opinion I valued above all else, even my own. I have become such an independent person over the years that I often forget I used to not value myself. I see how God used even these events that I did not want to shape me and teach me how to stand up for myself. I learned how to find my own voice. A voice worth sharing. I still value my mother’s opinion, but I now value my own first. I am also not afraid to share things with her like I used to be. I know, no matter how different we view things, she is my mother. She will always love and support me. It may take her a bit of time to come around to certain ideas if she disagrees, but eventually she understands me. She accepts me no matter what. Her love is more valuable than her pride. Despite this though, I know she is proud of me. Even in the decisions I make which she does not agree.