Does A Small Group of Friends Mean We’re Doing Something Wrong?

Photo by Namphuong Van on Unsplash

I’m not new by any means to my current city. I have lived in Portland for more than three years. I live with my SO, who is essentially my best friend. I have a friend group from high school that I keep in touch with daily through a very active group chat. And, though it took a long time, I have managed to cultivate some new, local friendships throughout my time here in the Rose City. By most standards, my life has been blessed with a bounty of deep and beautiful friendships.

Recently, however, effectively half of my close local friends have moved away to different cities. Both were from different friend groups, and yet their departure dates were less than two weeks apart.

In some ways, this makes me all the more grateful for my remaining friends here. In other ways, I feel as lonely as ever.

Sometimes, when things in my life aren’t feeling quite right, my mind begins to consider overly romanticized life events that might offer (at least at face value) more meaning to it. Usually, this manifests itself in shopping sprees or daydreams of moving to “the big city.” This time, I dreamt of adopting a dog.

Last night, as I was scrolling through Petfinder to find a potential new furry friend, I caught myself amid my mental escapism. As I realized what I was doing, I expressed to my SO that I was starting to feel a bit lonely, and that, though the idea of a dog is often a fickle daydream, I might want to follow through with it this time. Today, he mentioned that he was worried about me, which got me thinking–is it so bad to be a little bit lonely? Is not having many friends really as detrimental as we make it out to be?

It’s pretty strange, isn’t it? Logically, I know that I’ve been surrounded by friends for most of my life. I have moved various times throughout my twenties, and have always managed to find a group of friends. Yet, despite all this, the fact that my local friend count these days is greatly diminishing makes me feel a strange mix of guilt, pressure, and loneliness. So much so, that I can’t tell if I feel actual loneliness, or loneliness because I shouldn’t be this alone.

Humans are ultimately social beings. And we heavily rely on community, whether we realize it or not. These days, our friend groups have replaced the more traditional “communities” that our modern world has phased out. In this sense, I know I need to put myself out there, and foster a closer sense of community. Sometimes, though, especially in the age social media bragging, it’s as if I need to go out and make friends to prove to others that I am, in fact, not incapable of being a functional social being. Because if I do not socialize, then there must be something wrong with me…right?

And, yet, in an age where people are moving so often and increasingly living in isolation–I can’t be the only one who feels this?


In Defense of Not Following Your Passion

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
“Follow your passion,” they said. “You’ll never work a day in your life,” they said.
It seems to me that these words have become the credo of our modern working world. I can’t even recall where I first heard them, but, from a very young age, they would become the crux of my career philosophy for years to come.
They’re what pushed me to give up going to medical school three and a half years into a biology degree. They’re what encouraged me to head to grad school for a degree in Italian Studies. They’re what led me to conceive of this pipe dream of owning my own coffee shop/bakery one day. And they’re what’s making me anxious about choosing a career in programming, rather than in writing.
As a long time member of the “find your passion” club, I’m here to say: it’s not all it’s cut out to be.
Let me be clear here: I am not saying that this phrase is devoid of meaning or truth. Undoubtedly, it has helped shape lots of careers for the better, and has given many the courage to find success doing what they love for a living.
Still, for a lot of us, this philosophy can at times be more of a oppressor than a motivator. Because, if we’re not “following our passion,” then, are we really living?
I spend hours upon hours soaking up entrepreneurship podcasts, blogs, and Youtube videos. I take in success story after success story of folks who are “living the dream” following their creativity. And, despite the parts of this philosophy that I take umbrage with, I will admittedly continue to absorb these stories with as much hunger as ever. But, as long as I continue to do that, I will also face enormous amounts of self-induced pressure to find what it is I’m meant to do, and to stop wasting time not doing it. And, this, I believe, can be an unhealthy frame of mind, due to the following considerations:
  1. These stories are highlight reels, and they often paint a pretty portrait of what was likely a long, laborious and confusing road. Some stories are honest about this caveat, but others seem to casually disguise it. This is, in part, because a lot of this content comes from folks who have made it their business model to encourage others to do what they do. And, while I’m sure they’re well-meaning and want to genuinely help others pursue their dreams, it does behoove them to make their successes as shiny, accessible, and “repeatable” as possible. But, this often comes at a misleading price.
  2. Many of these stories assume that you have one single and obvious “passion,” and that your sole purpose in life is to see that passion through. But, what about those of us who seem to have many, divergent “interests”? What if we aren’t truly fervent about…anything? Are we, then, destined for a life of unfulfillment?
  3. The underlying message in many of these narratives, though perhaps not deliberate, is that your passion likely lies outside the traditional 9-5 job. Thus, if you’re stuck in a 9-5, you must inevitably be limiting yourself and your life. But, there must be some people out there loving their traditional, corporate jobs, right? Where are their stories? Where are their motivational plugs? (Side-note: podcast recommendations for these stories are much appreciated–please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any.)
  4. Even if you know what your passion might be, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ready to quit your job to “just do it”. What does “doing it” even mean? Do you know precisely what skills you’ll need in order to set yourself up for success? Do you have a financial security blanket to catch you if you fall flat on your face?
Ultimately, I do still believe that many out there have a “creative calling,” so to speak, and that most can be successful pursuing it, when the time is right. To those that have decided to take that leap of faith–I greatly admire you. You’re courageous, bold, and are light years ahead of where I am. But, for those of us who carry this self-induced pressure of finding what our life’s purpose might be, and who beat ourselves up for not following the examples in front of us, I’m here to say that it’s OK. You don’t need to quit your day job right now. Your time spent there is not without value. You are learning skills and strategies that might even be invaluable when the time comes to be on your own. You don’t need to know exactly what you’re meant to do at this moment. It’s ok to keep searching, to keep chipping away at what you think you want to do, and to stay at a job that doesn’t check every box in your dream job checklist.


Unhappiness, but not quite sadness

The minutes approach the stroke of noon.

Maybe I’ve never really been happy here.

I lay on my side, on our living room’s couch. Its length spans the entirety of the wall. A couch that was meant to fill this new and spacious home with comfort. A home whose space was meant to fill parts of the voids. And yet, somehow, it feels like it achieves just the opposite.

I stare at the marks on  our coffee table, but I’m not really looking at them. My gaze veers to the left, and is met with the sight of our stout Vitamin D bottle. It stores inside of it little droplets of face-value alleviation for this season of depression–a season that was surely delayed this year, but whose arrival was only a matter of time.

Here we are. Not even a full week of clouds, and already I can’t seem to get up.

Maybe I’ve never really been happy here.

An Unsolicited Opinion on the Social Medias of Today (lol)

So much for my 365 days of coding.

I was scrolling through my 365 days of coding posts, and couldn’t help but think–well, another project started, another project that I lost interest in, and another project that I left unfinished. They say that creatives frequently struggle to finish their artistic undertakings…so, does this technically make me a ~*~creative~*~?

Recently, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and oversaturated by all of the blogs and vlogs and insta-logs galore, which has led me to take on a fairly negative attitude about posting my own words. Why does everyone have to have something to say? Why is every Fulano or Mengana racing to put frequently posted and quick-to-engage “content” out there? It’s become such a rat race, and frankly rather dull. Every insta-story I view is nothing I haven’t seen before. What I once glorified as a meaningful way of connecting with others world-wide has started to feel like a look-what-I-did-this-weekend pissing contest, now that it’s lost its novelty.

I feel nostalgic for the nascent social media world of yester-year. I miss the era of personal blogs with less frequent but more substantive posts, devoid of sponsors but full of rawness and internal reflection. I recently rediscovered my Tumblr, and felt simultaneously revitalized and a little saddened. Saddened, because my dashboard wasn’t as unending as it once was. Revitalized, because I immediately jumped back to Raquel of five years ago–bright-eyed and naive, confused and curious about all things adulthood, scrolling through an infinite dashboard of latte-art pictures, posts of anonymous, well-dressed ladies, and images encapsulating infinite silence vis-a-vis intentionally faded and blue-tinted winter landscapes. There was something so comforting about the anonymity of the people I was seeing in those images. I did not know anything about their life stories–I did not know that they posed like this for a living. I did not know that they spent their life jet-setting and promoting products in paid partnerships. They were not accompanied by pushy listicle headlines, urging me to buy the 15 must-have items for fall. They weren’t making me feel insufficient, because my life did not mirror theirs, one for one. They were mainly a means to an imaginary world of pretty pictures–an aesthetic fantasy world, if you will, where I could roam off to when I was feeling particularly pensive, and was seeking to romanticize what my eventual future might look like. Now that we’ve put a name and an actual life to these images, it feels like a competition for who has the most enviable ~*~lifestyle~*~, and here’s X, Y, and Z pictures to prove it.

So I haven’t wanted to contribute to it. And as a consumer (bc that’s what we are these days), I know there’s a simple solution. (Am I saying goodbye to the insta? Maybe I’ll try it).

LOL. This post was meant to serve as an update on my coding progress, and has morphed into a diatribe of sorts on our social media landscape and on my #firstworldproblem.


(*photo taken from Tumblr)

This weekend: the Get Your Shit Together weekend

I’m excited for this weekend! I literally have no plans. No one to meet. No dogs to view. No houses to check out.

Instead, my plans are to tidy up the mess of a life I’ve created as of late, lol. I call this my, “Get you shit together weekend.”

I’ve been doing a lot of things at once recently, particularly in the last two weeks. Our lease is up in August, so naturally, I urgently and obsessively began looking for apartments. We saw one house, which I was convinced was the house, turns out it was not the house, and that was that. lol. Things at work have been in a state of flux, but no one was really addressing said changes. Throw in frustration with my own Ruby abilities, and you have a recipe for an exhausting few weeks at work.

Then, there was the whole dog thing. I have been obsessed with dogs for at least two years now. When we moved into our current place about a year ago, we rented it with the intent of filling it with a forever furry friend. Last weekend, for whatever reason, something clicked in me, and it became my sole purpose in life to FIND. THAT. DOG. As I feverishly searched and opened every tab on Petfinder, I would find one dog, become obsessed with it, convince myself it was THE DOG, and would drop everything to go meet it. (I even left work in the middle of the day on Thursday to drive in 2 hours of traffic and meet “Sweet Pea,” who, as it turns out, did not find me to be as sweet.)

I know, I know. It’s the environment they’re in—those poor things are caged and confused, and some even assume that their previous owners are going to come back. Unideal for meeting your new human.

I unfortunately felt no connection with these dogs. And after hearing from several dog owners that rescued, I’m trusting that “you’ll just know when you find your dog.” So I just have to be patient.

I suppose it’s for the best. I’m going out of town the next two weekends, anyway, so it wouldn’t be great to have to move new doge around a bunch when she just got here.

Lesson learned, though: calm the f down and don’t force any doggie relationships. There’s literally no rush to do this. lol

Boyfriend also noted that I may have been projecting my lack of control at work onto this dog goal. If I couldn’t control the moving parts of my job, then maybe I could at least control this facet of my life. I think he was right.

Anyway. I’m looking forward to taking this weekend and cleaning up my huge mess of a room, finally stepping foot on a treadmill after two weeks of sitting around being fluffy, doing some damn laundry, and just sitting through those damn HTML/CSS lectures, already!

Hope your weekends are as productive or as rejuvenating as you want them to be!