Friendship and Reinvention

I’ve had the chance in the last two months to catch up with a number of old friends and relatives I haven’t seen since last year.  Truly, I have been blessed to know so many people, and to have made so many new friends and associates since I started reinventing myself back in January.

It’s worth noting that one of the things I was afraid of when I reconnected with the people who had last seen me before reinvention didn’t come to pass.  My closest and longest running friends are all very practical, common-sense people, and almost none of them are artists, or share my eccentricity.  As such, I’d sometimes walk away from time together feeling disempowered and less than what I could be, because there will always be that aspect of my being they can intellectually get, but never truly understand.  Reconnecting with them after Reinvention, where I embraced those very qualities, I was afraid that they would lock me back into that box of unintentional condescension, that they would not respect the New Me.

It was a silly fear, in hindsight, but a real one at the time I felt it.  True friends love almost every new incarnation of you. Having now introduced the New Me to just about everyone I was really close to before, during, and after Reinvention, I now see I never had anything to worry about.

My new friends and contacts are now almost predominantly artists and individuals pursuing personal development, and so as those connections get stronger, I’m realizing that they will have only known this new version of me.  In an odd way, it reminds me of an exchange between President Shepherd and Sidney Ellen Wade in Aaron Sorkin’s The American President: the reason why First Ladies of past presidents never felt awkward having sex with their president husbands was because, unlike Ms. Wade, their men didn’t hold the office when they first met them.

That’s not to say I’m sleeping with my new artist and personal development friends, by the by (though I’m sure a few of them would gladly have a go), but the point’s somewhat the same: sleeping with the President is a little bit different than sleeping with someone who someday may become President.

You meet people at various points in their lives, and often those initial experiences shape your impression of them for life.  Sometimes, you lock them into that first impression, and when they try to escape – a shy person becoming outgoing, or shedding that teddy bear image in favour of edginess – you may find yourself trying to put them back into that old mold.  All too often, the result is a loss of that friendship.  The New Person resists your attempts to have them only show up in the way that you are comfortable with, and you resist their change.  And so a friend drops out of your life, and you out of theirs.  They outgrow you.

There are many secrets to maintaining important relationships over time.  One secret I’d like you to consider is watchfulness.  Take delight in watching the growth and evolution of a close friend or relative over the course of life and time.  Accept that they may come to say, believe, do, or otherwise become something that you yourself may not be comfortable with.  Respect the history you share, but be open to possibility, and watch the beauty of Reinvention unfold in the life of someone you love.

That’s all I’ve got for today.  I’ve neglected this blog for a bit, so I’ll be back soon with more.

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