Friendship, priorities, etc

I can’t tell you how many times I have been called a “terrible replier” by those around me. With near derision (but of course disguised as a joke), friends will say, “Oh I don’t even expect a reply anymore, you are so unreliable over message”.

My question is: If I am attempting to be more present by reducing my screen time, or am simply just too busy, should I feel guilty about my subpar ability to reply? Does being an “unreliable replier” in 2021 equate to being an “unreliable friend”?

Sometimes, amidst the busyness of life, the receipt of a message that expects a sizeable reply seems like a (deceivingly) daunting task; one which I more often than not will procrastinate, in much the same way I would a university assignment.

The typical responses I have seen to this are: ‘you make time for what you value’, ‘if you prioritise friendships you will put in the effort’… As if that somehow makes it easier to do? So, at the risk of holding an unpopular opinion, I want to say that sometimes, even if you value your friendships immensely, life forces you to prioritise other things first.

I think the notion of ‘cancelling’ a friendship with someone because they haven’t consistently prioritised you is quite damaging. Of course, I don’t mean toxic or one-sided or selfish friendships in which you don’t have a voice. I mean the friendships where you may not see or even speak to each other for a period of time, but when you do you can pick up right where you left off. The friendships where you can be secure in the knowledge that you always wished each other well, even if you weren’t in constant communication.

Is this view shared by others? I feel like the message I most often see is that if I valued my friendships, I would be ‘putting in the effort’. Can we normalise the fact that adult friendships are steeped in a million other responsibilities, and may not always be one’s first priority… But are valued nonetheless?

Adultism… Why I lie about my age

Let me share with you an event which my 16-year-old self perceived as a grave affront, a major blow to my self-worth. I was staying at one of my friend’s houses whose parents had… let’s say more of a laissez faire approach to parenting than mine did. So of course we loved staying there. This friend of mine had a boyfriend who was a few years older than us. He was over this evening and we were all sitting in my friend’s bedroom. Out of nowhere, this boyfriend of hers looks at me and says:

“Surely you’re not sixteen… You look fourteen at most”

Now of course to me this was like a left hook to the jaw. I was OUTRAGED at his remark. So I gingerly giggled and looked away, hiding my devastation. That showed him.

Why did I think this was such a grave offence? Why have I always hated being called ‘young’, and ESPECIALLY being told I look young? And the big question:

Why do I lie about my age, even now?

This was brought to my attention very recently, when I was asked at a dinner table to remind them of how old I was. My first instinct was to add a year to my age. Instead, I dialled back and answered: “I’m almost 25″.

….My birthday is 5 months away. Almost 25? Righto.

On this particular evening, the group was on to me and I was then shamelessly assaulted with reminders that I was in fact still 24, and I should report my age as 24.

But it really got me thinking. Why do I feel embarrassed about being perceived as young? When I go into my workplace, when I am introduced to anyone new, even when I’m asked by people I know… I falsely increase my age.

I think it’s because I automatically ascribe more authority, knowledge, experience, expertise… and perhaps ultimately value to people who are older than me. It turns out this is something that is pretty ingrained in our society, and it has a name: adultism. You may have heard of ageism, but maybe not adultism.

Ageism is stereotyping and discrimination of people based on their age. Most commonly, this is directed towards elderly people and it assumes that all people in this group are the same.

Adultism is a bias towards adults that causes stereotyping and discrimination of young people. Adultism is about the prevalent attitudes and beliefs (apparent through language, rules and laws, culture, education etc) that favour adults and dismiss young people.

I must admit I fell into a bit of a Google rabbit hole on this one. But the crux of it for me is: We are conditioned to take adults (their opinions, ideas, solutions, knowledge, actions) seriously, and to dismiss or take with a grain of salt the same ideas from younger people.

And I even do it to myself! Feeling a lot of indignation right now. I think of even just a few influential young people from recent years: Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and Jaylen Arnold and I recognise their value, their knowledge, their authority instantly.

So if anything, this has served as a reality check to myself. Youth does NOT equal inexperience or incompetence. Rather, youth equals opportunity.

Can you get imposter syndrome from writing a blog post?

(Asking for a friend). Seriously though, still feeling a bit unsure about this whole endeavour. I’m not an expert on anything, my insights are no more profound than anyone else’s… but I do love a good yarn.

For all of you who have stumbled upon this page and have read this far, here is an idea of things I might write about:

  • My unqualified opinions on current events, global issues, feminist topics… Or topics with much less depth such as my Cavoodle puppy Bowie (as in David)
  • Daily occurrences (most often featuring said Cavoodle)
  • Attempts to live more sustainably
  • Travel (retrospective or anticipatory only at the moment – cue global pandemic)
  • Hobby hunting
  • Navigating the murky waters of ‘adulting’

Why am I sharing my musings in this public forum, rather than sticking to my journal? You may ask. Well – that’s something I haven’t stopped asking myself. In all honesty, I haven’t figured that out, but I hope by stepping (or deep diving) out of my comfort zone I can learn something, connect with likeminded people or even just find an outlet.

When I was little I always said I was going to be an author… well look at me now, mum!

Eb.

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