Public Post!

I have a ten­den­cy to col­lect spe­cial­ists. Not for­mal­ly edu­cat­ed PHD’s, nec­es­sar­i­ly, but peo­ple who have expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge in a top­ic I’m pur­su­ing or expe­ri­enc­ing. I have a gay friend I can talk queer issues with, a fem friend I can talk rela­tion­ships with, and a best friend I can lament our health prob­lems with (but also mutu­al­ly gush about each oth­er’s amaz­ing lives).

When some­thing comes up per­son­al­ly, pro­fes­sion­al­ly, in health, sex, love, or games, writ­ing or busi­ness, there are an array of peo­ple I can call on for advice and guid­ance. This isn’t by acci­dent.

Our par­ents are sup­posed to be our first line of defense. I know many peo­ple don’t have that lux­u­ry, but I’m lucky enough to have both a mom that knows the ins and outs of tax­es and a dad who has run his own busi­ness for years. They’re both hap­pi­ly mar­ried, an exam­ple of how to love (and how to fight) over the course of years.

But if you don’t have a good fam­i­ly exam­ple, or if your par­ents are gone, it can be real­ly iso­lat­ing to try nav­i­gat­ing life on your own. Building your own net­work of advis­ers, men­tors, and friends makes a world of dif­fer­ence.

These peo­ple don’t need to be in per­son, either. My writ­ing men­tor lives in the UK, while I’m on the US west coast, half way around the world. I’ve met her a few times, but 99% of our rela­tion­ship is dig­i­tal. In addi­tion, my week­ly writ­ing account­abil­i­ty part­ner is also a dig­i­tal rela­tion­ship. We used to live in the same town, but when I moved away we start­ed meet­ing over google hang­outs and now that’s our main phone call each week.

It can be hard for intro­verts to find in-per­son peo­ple to admire. I start­ed going to a journaling/planning meet­up, but only because a friend of mine took me along, so I had some­one famil­iar with me. Now I con­sid­er the orga­niz­er of that group among my friends, and she’s been a great resource for health dis­cus­sions. She intro­duced me to my acupunc­tur­ist… and now she’s play­ing DnD with Mr. V and I on the week­ends!

I have learned to be ruth­less with my time and atten­tion. If I only have two spoons, Mr. V is get­ting one of them. But even if I have plen­ty of spoons, I allo­cate them to peo­ple and things that I want to see con­tin­ue in my life ten years from now. I’d love to be friends with all peo­ple, and have an eter­nal well of emo­tion­al sup­port for those folks who need it, but the real­i­ty is both my time and abil­i­ty are lim­it­ed.

I curate my friend groups in the same way a muse­um might curate their col­lec­tions. People that I admire, have a dif­fer­ent or more advanced skill than I do, and peo­ple that just make me hap­py to be around, will receive more of my time and atten­tion. People who drain me, love to engage in dra­ma, and don’t have ambi­tion for their lives get less of it. I have lim­it­ed spoons, so I pri­or­i­tize the peo­ple that make my life bet­ter. In this way, rela­tion­ships that aren’t cul­ti­vat­ed nat­u­ral­ly fade away.

It’s not a sys­tem that works for every­one, but I’ve found it works for me. It keeps me engaged with peo­ple who are mean­ing­ful in my life, and I’m able to access a range of exper­tise when I need advice. I’ve been lean­ing on my sup­port net­work heav­i­ly this month as I nav­i­gate my health, so their con­tri­bu­tions to my day-to-day are promi­nent in my mind.