When I think about my friendships over the past three semesters of college I immediately think “I’m not good at picking friends”. This thought troubled me for some time because for the most part I consider myself to be a fairly-good and honest person, so for me having a series of bad or failed friendships encouraged me to self-reflect and consider that maybe I was the common denominator. In some ways I found that I was, but for all the right reasons.
I evaluated the way my life was going and the people I associated myself with and I realized that many of their values, lifestyles, and decisions were morally or socially opposite of mine. A friend told me once that you can determine your future by identifying your friends, and honestly, the people that I hung around were not people that I wanted to be like.
Most of them were heavy drug users and drinkers, many of them were promiscuous or care-free and others were simply insecure. None of these were images that I wanted to be seen in, so I made the decision to stop associating myself with them. But this didn’t fix my problem it just opened the door to another question. Why do I attract these kinds of people?
My mother would tell me that “you are who you attract” but in my heart, I knew that this was more referenced to who someone is not necessarily what they do and so I knew that this wasn’t my answer. I thought well, maybe I’ve been looking for people to fix, and that’s why this keeps happening, but the fairly-good in me knew that this wasn’t an adequate answer either.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I started this wall of sticky notes that I called the wall of wisdom. It was essentially a list of goals and priorities that I had made for myself, and each time that I’d accomplished one of the goals I would take down the sticky note, and in ways it made me feel like I was one step closer to being fixed. And that’s when it clicked.
The similarities between me and all those people who I had lost as friends were that we were all broken in some way and none of us wanted to admit that or change it. We were all too scared.
The day things changed for me was different. I had just gotten back to my room and I was looking into my mirror/wall which is something that I rarely did. I started reading all of the posted notes and realized that out of all the people that were up there my name wasn’t there once. I had prioritized all of these people in my life and had yet to put myself first. So, I changed things up.
When the second semester started I was barely talking to any of my friends. Mostly just a hello or how have you been if I saw them in public, but nothing major. I was really focused on all of my classes going from making C’s and D’s on assignments to making nothing but A’s. I started going to the gym and losing weight and joining clubs. Basically, the ideal experience for a college student, but the responses that I got were interesting.
The people who called themselves friends of mine were very negative towards me. They said that I was acting different, one of them called me a liar another insinuated that I was an opportunist, and it was difficult to understand because these are emotions that I had never heard from them before.
Naturally, I investigated and asked them the root of these accusations, but they could never give me a clear answer. I expressed these ideas to another friend who in turn defended them, but still could not give me an example of how I emulated any of these labels.
At this point, I decided that in order to understand the new dynamic of this complex friendship I would have to evaluate it from the beginning. This particular friend group developed in early September shortly after I had ended a very serious friendship that I had been in for over a year.
And yes, I worded it like that purposely. When the friendship first ended my initial instinct was to stay in my room, focus on myself, and get my emotions back to normal, but that never happened.
There was one person from this new rising friendship who would make it a priority to call me every day and check on me, make sure I had eaten, and keep me in good spirits. To be completely honest with you, I am so thankful to have had someone like that in my life at that time because it coddled the idea that I wasn’t the problem and my old friends were just crazy.
It made me feel appreciated but looking back on it I know that I should’ve taken the time I needed to work on myself. I should’ve politely turned down the offer when they asked me to go eat or play video games. I should’ve stayed in my room and did my homework, watched television, or talked on the phone with my grandmother, but the time has passed and there’s nothing I can do now except learn.
The reason that this is such a crucial part in the development of our friendship is that it established roles. We all know somebody who we can identify as a leech. Someone who uses everyone around them and basically takes advantage of every situation, but no one ever thinks to look out for the “Host”.
I have given this a lot of thought and I’m going to try my best to explain it as best I can and possibly redefine the connotative idea of a leech.
Imagine someone does a favor for you and then three weeks later you two are casually having dinner and they subtly bring up the favor in a way that’s obvious to you and them but might just sound like an inside joke to anyone listening. And then a few months pass by and that subtle “remember what I did” is not so subtle anymore.
You start to feel indebted to that person and so you start coming around them more and you really can’t seem to separate who you are as an individual from who you are with this person.
That’s what a “Host” does. They establish a semi-functional relationship with someone who shows obvious distress so that the person becomes attached to them. A “Host” weighs their validity on the ability to hold as many leeches as possible so they tend to attract people who are not in control of their lives.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t say this to discredit the “Host”, because more than likely, they have this mentality because they are equally broken. I’m saying this more so to call attention to this role in a friendship.
A “Host” will likely get upset if they notice one of their leeches moving away, they will try to manipulate the other leeches into agreeing with false concepts or ideas that discredit the enlightened leech so to make them feel bad and get them to return to their “Host”.
That’s the situation I was in. I felt hit on all sides because I couldn’t tell any of my other friends (fellow leeches) about my feelings because they would simply defend the “Host”.
One of the days in the middle of my journey to self-love my “Host” made the decision to comment on one of my post on Snapchat. The post wasn’t about them, but they still felt the need to make me feel guilty about posting something.
My first thought was to apologize and make it right as usual and then I realized that I would be giving in to what they expected from me.I had no reason to apologize because I had not done anything wrong. I reached out to my other friends (fellow leeches) and they called me crazy and paranoid.
This is when I decided that I wasn’t a leech anymore. I didn’t think like the rest of them. I could identify the difference between right and wrong. I knew that at its core this was nothing but bullying and I couldn’t stand and let myself be a subject of it. I thought about those qualities of a friend that others saw and would associate with me and bully was DEFINITELY not going to be attached to my name.
Since then I have started this new journey. I want to be the host and the leech of my own life. Because being a host doesn’t just mean constantly having people around you, but also to be in control or have the upper hand.
I hope that one day I can be in total control of my own life and I can utilize myself as a resource. I pray that all of the decisions I make today will lead me on a path where one-day people will be asking me for recommendations and references, looking up to me as a mentor, and admiring my legacy. I hope that I will get to a point in my life where my name will be my resumé. But until then I’ll continue to work on me one sticky note at a time.