No longer the best

Friends are so important. They help you through difficult times and they are there for you. Well, if you have friendships that you feel are slipping out of your grasp, be sure to chase them if they are worthy.

I spent two days with my best friend and realised not for the first time a sea of change and a real difference between us. We’ve been friends for over 14 years which is one of my greatest accomplishments. She is my longest friend and the one I considered my best friend to be forever. We met as teens in high school and instantly became fast friends. We have lifted each other out of the darkness one time or another. We are completely different – she is a scientist and I am a philosopher; in school she was in the top set and I was in the bottom. We couldn’t be more different, but what always united us were our shared moral values.

In friendships, it is not unusual to experience a feeling of distance between friends. We are always changing. But today, I discovered as I voiced my feelings of distance, that this time I was not wrong about this uneasy feeling that had crept over me. As a philosopher I needed a question answered before we parted company: “Are we still best friends?” Because the truth was it didn’t feel like it. The previous day, I persuaded her to show me her PhD acknowledgement section and I was surprised to see how very low on the list I was carted in with her other good friends; one whom I did not know about. Don’t get me wrong, I was honoured to be in the section, but I was shocked at how small my part played compared to other friends. It was then that I realised we had somewhere along the line separated. We no longer turned to each other as the first in line to help us with whatever was ailing us. Instead we chose different people, at least she did. I can honestly say I always turned to her first and still to this day. But the struggle of writing her PhD I realised, I could never fully understand. She asked if I was disappointed and I lied and said I was not; it was lovely. But in that moment I felt horrible, like I didn’t mean much any more. Later in the day, I asked when we would be travelling together like she promised, only to be told that she was broke and would not be doing so anytime soon.

As I lay in bed the previous night pondering it all, I decided that I would quietly let go and disappear from her life. I clearly was no longer the best, I was a stranger and she was a stranger to me. The fact that I didn’t know about the struggles she went through and the fact that I had tried to share my struggles but due to all her focus going on her PhD, she had limited time for me. We somehow lost the way to communicate. As with couples, the I becomes We. She was planning to visit me in Japan. Then she invited her boyfriend. I was mad, but I accepted it. Finally she cancelled her trip to visit me in Japan because of the PhD. I wasn’t surprised. I was relieved because I didn’t have to take time off my busy schedule. We had encountered this before. So many times she would cancel on me. So many broken promises. But it didn’t matter because she was my best friend. Well, not anymore. Today I lost a best friend. Or perhaps it was months ago.

As she answered my question, I understood the truth. We were no longer best friends. We had been utterly changed from our experiences, that our lives were no longer close to the same track we had been running on. We were close friends for sure, but we were not solely exclusively best friends. It was very sad. It was the cold, hard truth. It hurt. But it’s okay.

I realised that we are now of an age when we are no longer children, we are adults soon to marry, settle down and have children. We were going in different directions and there was nothing we could do about it. Maybe people shouldn’t have best friends – one best person out of good friends, it’s not really fair. I don’t think I could have another friendship like that again. But at least I have made some lovely friends. So I won’t disappear from this friendship and quietly fade into the background, but I won’t fight no longer being the best, because this time it’s a two way street. It’s a decision and not just mine.

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When will I get it right?

For someone who enjoys learning, it’s easy to think someone naturally smart when the truth is it just requires hard work and practice. Firstly it involves understanding the principle/concept and then putting it into practice is the difficult part trying to work on that concept. I have always enjoyed learning whatever the subject may be but I have also equally found it very difficult to grasp certain subjects while others came naturally. Science, French, languages and maths based subjects I struggled because it took me time to understand and time requires patience in teaching which most people don’t have time for. Other subjects such as art, history, cooking, Design and Technology all flowed so easily to me. I remember my year 7 end of year results where I got Ds and Es in Maths, Science etc. and the only consolation was my As and Bs in Art, History and DT. I was put in the lowest class in year 8. That was the year I decided I didn’t want to be stuck with the rest of the ‘idiots’ in my class who thought 32% in Biology was “bloody marvellous” while I looked on in scorn at the low mark I received which happened to be the highest mark in the class. It took a lot of time, hard work and late nights to rectify these marks and try harder to achieve better. I don’t think I’ve always handled pressure and stress very well, but I managed it. In the end I came out shining with As and Bs and no Ds or Es in sight.

Now two years ago I put my mind to learning to drive and I really enjoyed it to begin with, but a year later after my failed first test I decided to try again and work hard to pass but the cookie crumbed and I came out of the second test utterly defeated and devastated. My confidence fell to the floor and I realised how utterly useless I was at the practical, even though I managed to soar and do very well in the theoretical. Driving for some people comes very easily, while it takes less than 20 lessons it takes someone else more than 80. I started off confident, happy and optimistic and I am slowly burning out after 2 years of learning and 2 failed tests later. My hearts not in it anymore, my resolve is slowly dying and I get angry at the gears by trying to jam them into their rightful place. Slow down, calm down, be relaxed, enjoy it are some of the phrases thrown at me, but you can’t understand me and what I’m feeling when I drive now. I am nervous, I am tired and I am close to giving up, but simultaneously so desperate not to give up because of the amount of time, money and effort spent on trying to become a better driver. My theory runs out in January and I set my target to take my test by early December, but as time goes by, day by day I start to lose hope that I can actually achieve that target because I am so bloody scared. I am so scared of failing again and messing it all up and not being able to do it anymore. I am so scared of the actions of others and what may happen on the road. I am so scared driving in London because it is so tough. I am so scared I’ll never be able to do this. With so many people urging me on I am tempted to forgo this and repeat my theory and do the practical next year when I am ready. I mean let’s be honest you can’t take a test unless you are ready right? Unless you are forced to and time constraints leave you no choice, but at that point you either pass or you fail. I just haven’t felt that feeling of being ready and I am scared I will never feel ready, never get that feeling. Maybe I am relying too much on feeling here and not enough on reason and fact but sometimes its important to feel ready and right before acting upon reason, before going further. Maybe I am getting caught up by everyone else’ standards and demands and not facing up to what I really want and maybe need to do.

I wish time was on my side, but its never on my side really and its never really on anyone’s side. My driving instructor said its all about priorities. What are my priorities? Why am I always racing in life? What am I in a rush for? I think I just need some space from my life but how funny I don’t think it’s even possible to get space from yourself and your life? Don’t think you can run far enough because those problems will still be there at the back of your mind to haunt you. The mind will never let you forget and you will always have to go back to face them in the end. It’s a bit like an elastic band when you stretch it to such a point and finally it needs to recoil back to its original form. Life is a constant struggle and I keep wondering with my head in a book when it will all be over? The book being my escape but after a while knowing that I can’t hide forever and I can’t keep escaping because the story always ends. A book cannot solve my problems, simply help me avoid them for a while. When will the struggle be over? But this is all a 1st world struggle. Despite that it’s still a struggle. A struggle to be heard in a loud crowd, the struggle to be seen and noticed in work, the struggle to overcome your fears, the struggle to fight your depressive thoughts and the struggle against succumbing to the easier path. Nothing in life is ever easy. The struggle not to become like others but be your own person independent of all constraints, others and solely reliant on the self. The self is fragmented though and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this and seeing my reflection in the mirror when I was studying philosophy. Nothing is indestructible but I do not renounce all hope. It just hurts no that’s not the right word, its just pure frustration with the self and not being able to get it right. When will I get it right consistently? When will I be ready to face life properly?

Fiction or Reality? I choose getting lost in fiction any day!

So I have recently been reading and thinking. Writers usually write to allow their readers a form of escapism but also it allows them to escape in their own fantasy world. Most plots derive from our fantasies or so it seems, but some things are also mostly based on our experiences, because how can you write about something without having some kind of knowledge of it. This doesn’t necessarily have to be knowledge from the experiences one has had, but it can derive from the experiences of others- though you only see one side of their experience. Not only do you not experience the emotions of pain or happiness that they felt since you cannot feel it thus you cannot truly comprehend it. You could imagine it, but never grasp its reality. But you also only receive their side of the feelings- their words so stories end up twisted from the original truth (or original event that happened). For example if my friend broke up with a guy, I would be hearing her side of the story. How she interprets the situation may be different to how he interprets it. I would not understand how she felt because how can I if I’ve not had the similar experience of breaking up with a guy who I really loved or liked. I could imagine how it would feel, but that would be no good because I didn’t feel the raw emotions of what it is to love in that way, to feel pain or hurt in that specific way. All I would feel is pity for my friend trying to comprehend the way she feels, trying to reassure and comfort her, while secretly thinking and making the mental note never to make the same mistakes that she did. Never to fall in love so that I don’t give anyone the power to hurt me like. But that’s the problem with learning from other people’s mistakes and not learning from your own. You become too cautious to even make mistakes of your own because you are too afraid to do the wrong thing, to be caught in the hole in the ground everyone keeps digging for themselves. There is always someone who tries to lend a hand to a person stuck in that hole, but its up to you to choose whether you need help or even want the help offered or whether you drown in your unhappiness.

Anyway I have digressed, people teach you things whether you realise it or not we are all influenced by our family, friends and random strangers! Despite sometimes not wanting to be, you are. This has somehow drifted into a completely different topic that I no longer know how I got here! I can honestly say I am lost in a rabbit hole but in a different kind- not due to a relationship but coming to terms with what do I do with my life? Where do I go from here now that I have finished my studies? Who can help me? I can only help myself- I have to try, but what I always find that I do- no matter where I run to, where I go what I do- I always seem to try to escape to a different reality. To a fantasy world, to a place of fiction anywhere from the truth. But authors do that too- they try to recreate their own fantasies in their writings, they try to realise the dreams they never fulfilled through their characters giving them the happy ending they never got. Well I wouldn’t say never- just a different happy ending in life. While a book ends mostly happily ever after where the main character wins by defeating the baddie- war between good over evil conquers all. Well this is not the case in life, because there are no happy endings in life. There is no such thing as the prince saving the princess and living happily ever after. What does that even mean anyway? It’s time to grow up and learn that life’s not like a fairytale. Its been said many times but it really is true so why do people continue to read and watch these fairytales wishing they were true. In real life, that does not happen- after happily ever after aka getting married more problems and obstacles arise i.e maintaining a job, growing old, having children etc. Everyone still battles with their demons- but life goes on- no happy end except death. But then is that the ultimate end? So many debates surrounding that topic I won’t get into that now.

Society too has an impact on everything- on our lives, music, movies, books, media etc. The media seem to control what we desire and what we want trying to portray lifestyles we must attain. We try to attain perfection- perfect life, perfect body, the happy ending. But this is all poisonous if it only succeeds in hindering us, by shying away from our bodies, being ashamed. Look at the books that are on our shelves, being sold- they represent the times in which we live in and unfortunately they are all filled with crap! The desire for the superficial rich and famous lifestyle- The good girl getting with the rich rockstar living the dream! What is the dream? What is the life? Everyone is different so surely not everyone wants to be rich and famous. Books nowadays seem to have weak characters especially portraying women as weak, dependent and annoyingly stupid! Look at Twilight- Bella can’t even do anything because she’s so clumsy so Edward must be there all the time to “protect her”. The last thing the world needs is another young woman depicted as a “heroine” when she clearly isn’t! If you want something interesting to read, read the Hunger Games! Mind you it reminds me a little of Battle Royale! Anyone agree? It’s a pretty famous Japanese film! I would look it up if you enjoyed Hunger Games, though it is a lot darker.

Anyway there must lie some truth in a book- yes in the sense they are based on some kind of experience. The characteristics of the protagonist resemble some person or other. The main character normally resembles a person who the author wishes to be- who the author and sometimes reader wish to have the same strong characteristics that make the character strong and likeable who will fight for justice. No one likes a weak character, likewise in this cruel world no one likes a weak person. I wish I could say that I have learnt a lot from my experiences but sometimes it takes something twice as bad to hit you round the head for you to take notice and by then it may be too late. But then hopefully there is never such a thing as being too late. Better to have tried later than never.