Saturday, July 20, 2002

Crash and Burn

That's how I describe my relationships with people. At one moment, I'm like a brother to them. At another, I could never be more despised.

As I've mentioned in some of my earlier entries, I'm not a person that has close friends. If I want to go out, I don't have someone I can just call and invite out. I don't even have anyone I can just call and talk to them about what happened during the day. If there's anyone I'm often seen with, it's the invisible man. Whenever I pass by someone in the mall or in school, the typical question is "who are you with?" I end up either shrugging or telling them that I'm with no one. Some of them are just shocked, especially when I run into them in a mall.

That's not to say I don't have any friends. In fact, I have a lot of them. I know most, if not everyone, from my batch in high school at least by face, if not by name. I'm also involved in a lot of mailing lists and online societies and it's fun to run into them in real life. In school, it's no exaggeration if I say I know at least someone from each course in my batch. And I manage to make friends with my classmates, no matter what the subject.

Of course this wasn't always the case. When I was in grade school, I dropped from one of the most popular people in my class to one of the most disgusted. For one thing, I suddenly alienated myself from my existing friends, mainly because I realized they were bullies and quite selfish. One of my friends would hog the Super Famicom console whenever he'd sleepover, causing my other friends to make complaints. There's also the fact that I suddenly started wearing glasses and started getting frequent colds. At that point, a lot of people avoided me and I often had trouble finding a group during group activities.

At several points in my life, I felt very lonely. I'd find myself in the house, alone with nothing but the computer, my books, and the television set. It was all a waste, it seemed to me, if there was no one I could share it with. I had no one to talk to, no one to play with, and most of all, no one to go out with. This caused me to dwell on my solitude and I wanted to change it. I was eager to make friends. Too eager, perhaps.

In high school, I was terribly alone. At least in grade school, I had a set of friends I could turn to. During that time, my former friends were scattered among seven different sections. The one friend who was my classmate found himself a new group and left me out. In part, this was a good thing as I was forced to meet new people and make new friends. Before grade school, I barely knew anyone outside my section. In high school, I managed to acquaint myself with a lot of people from my batch. But alas, still no best friend.

In fourth year, I fell in love. Her name was Erin and I got to know her via her personality from the Internet. When I first saw her, her looks didn't strike me but after getting to know her, I realized personality was something more than mere physical beauty could match. I courted her, unknowingly of course. I started wearing contact lenses. I loaned her my books and CDs. I tried to meet her as much as possible after classes. I gave her gifts for no reason at all. And she disliked me for all that. I suspected as much and eventually, I left her alone and got over her.

During the first few weeks of college, I met Erin's best friend, Steph. She was everything I could ever want: independent, hardworking, smart, and most of all, loved reading books. It reminded me a lot of Erin yet surprisingly different. I fell in love with her too, although gradually since I was doubting my emotions. After all, I was making sure I loved Steph for who she is rather than just a copy of Erin. Unknowingly as well, I was courting Steph. I was with her everyday, accompanying her to the bus station and talking to her. After which, we'd email each other when we got home. There's also the books I loaned her and the CDs I'd lend her. It was déjà vu.

As expected, Steph soon started to avoid me, and eventually, got mad at me. This all happened after three weeks of being together. Of course what didn't cross everyone's mind at the time is that I was considering Steph as a best friend as well as a potential girlfriend. If the latter didn't work out, the former would suit me just fine. But like most things in life, your best intentions can hurt people the worst.

A year later, I met Lea, the elder sister of one of my friends. She was an Eng. Lit. graduate and had a keen interest in anime. While she didn't like the fantasy books I read, she did like some fantasy, as well as science-fiction. No, I did not consider her as a love interest, but wanted her as a friend. Soon, I was talking quite often with her on the phone. She became my confidant and I felt that I had the best friend I never had.

Except she didn't feel that way about my phone calls. She felt it was a burden to her rather than a pleasure. I didn't realize this until she emailed me a month later, after not talking to each other for quite some time. My hopes went down the drain. But it helped me realize what was wrong.

I was too overzealous in my pursuit of a best friend. I once told people that the more people got to know me, the more they'd dislike me. This is true because often, I'm too pushy. The people who became angry at me like my crushes and Lea complain that I expect too much from them, that I don't give them space. And that's true. My relationships with them tend to "crash and burn". I'm quick to befriend them, we get close in a short span of time, and things come tumbling down.

Of course in all scenarios, people didn't tell me what was wrong until it was too late. I did tell them that to tell me as soon as possible that if they felt there was something discomforting about me, they should tell me. But they didn't do that and instead, kept it to themselves until they could hold it no longer. It's easy to blame them. But I know I am responsible as well. I just can't rely on people telling me what I should do or how people feel. I should have been more sensitive.

This also probably happened because the people I were trying to befriending were girls. Not top sound chauvinistic or anything but I find that most girls tend to be evasive, while I as a guy then to be confrontational. I like to face my problems head on. A lot of girls I know tend to either avoid the problem or not talk about it instead of facing it. I guess we all cope in different ways.

Alas, while there is life, there is still hope. I'm picking up the pieces, trying to renew bonds that have been broken. I'm grateful I'm still in speaking terms with Erin and Steph. Perhaps the issue between Lea and me will be solved some day. But now, I'm less aggressive and try to give people time. It's just sad to know that in order to show people that you care, sometimes, you have not to care. Nothing pains me more than to see a friend in need yet you can't help them since it might hurt their pride or they might think worse of you. But I've learned to trust, trust that my friends will cope, and trust that they'll see the itty-bit of goodness in me.

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