Monday, May 23, 2011

The People Who Matter

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind."

-- Dr. Seuss

In today's world, it's easy to get caught up in superficiality.

I mean, we live in a land rife with social media, where networking and connections are an integral - and often indispensable - part of our personal and professional lives. In fact, it's not uncommon for the average person to have hundreds - if not thousands - of online "friends" or followers on either Facebook and/or Twitter, respectively.

But does this quantity over quality mentality really make any sense? Are we as individuals really gaining anything (other than meaningless bragging rights) when we establish such loose and virtually nonexistent ties with people whom we, to be perfectly honest, barely know?

I used to think so. Perhaps it's a side effect of living a school and family-centric adolescence, one devoid of close, personal friendships outside of my immediate family, but when I had my so-called awakening in my early 20s, I knew that one of the areas I most needed to work on was my social skills.

So I put myself out there, albeit gradually, and began to go out drinking or just plain old hanging out with friends, co-workers, etc., despite the fact that the activities and their company often left me feeling empty inside. Having consumed varying amounts of alcohol and spending needless cash to do so, I would ultimately return home feeling like I had been bamboozled.

The whole point of my attempts to build a social life was to try and fill that emptiness I felt within, and while I have on occasion managed to conduct close, meaningful conversations with those I consider my friends, it seems that society's general idea of "friendship" relies largely on pointless small talk and artificial incarnations of our true selves, as if socializing is nothing more than the world's most widespread and elaborate costume party.

No one really gets to know the people around them because no one is secure and confident in themselves to drop the charade and be who they truly are. And, with everyone flashing their masks of perfection and unaffectedness, how can we ever hope to achieve those deep connections with people? How can we ever realize our desire to fill that lingering emptiness inside with people in our lives who truly care about us and invoke within us the desire to open ourselves up to them in return?

I've been just as guilty of this as anyone, as I spent at least half of my years on this planet hiding in the shadows... terrified of the judging eyes all around me... simultaneously yearning for their approval and resenting myself for not being more vigilant about seeking it.

So while I half-heartedly attempted to build a social circle in the real world, I settled for what I suspect many other people in a similar position do as well. I relied on the faux-friendships of Facebook, even knowing that the impersonal nature of the medium would not slake my hunger for close relationships.

In my heart, I had only my family and a handful of reliable friends, and this simply wasn't enough.

I can't say if this was caused mostly by my own insecurities or simply the societal pressure to be popular (which usually starts around the time of high school and often stays with us throughout our lives). Whatever the case may be, I was consistently seeking attention online and otherwise... looking for someone... anyone to show they care.

However, as I've grown weary of making attempts to contact and foster friendships with people who showed little to no interest in reciprocating and getting to know me, my perspective has shifted irreversibly to the other side.

And my conclusion now is... I don't need hundreds of "friends." I don't want to establish superficial, substanceless relationships with friends, co-workers, significant others or family members. If I'm going to get to know someone, they're going to get to know me.

Perhaps it's just the fact that time has made me a much wiser man than my younger self, but my time is too valuable to piss away going out drinking, getting caught up in mindless conversation and meeting random strangers who have little relevance to my life and possess no genuine desire to hear my story.
Unlike those people still trapped on that carousel of meaningless relationships and phoniness, I have come to realize that I'm far luckier than they are. Yes, I don't have a thousand "friends" on Facebook. I don't have a million followers on Twitter. Hell, I'm not even the life of the party in my real life.

My gift is far greater. I know - without the shadow of a doubt - who I can count on to be there for me. I know that my infinitely supportive family, my amazing girlfriend and a handful of reliable friends accept and love me for who I am with no reservation. They've seen the good and bad in me and have decided to stick by me.

So, while others might spend their days searching in vain for that sense of belonging, I've had mine all along. Now, it's simply up to me to show appreciation to the people in my life who love me by showing my love in return. They're the only ones I need. In short, they're the people who matter.



  1. *hugs*

    Great post, Robert.

    I think as we grow we come to realize who really does matter and I think that could also change as we continue to grow.

    Everyone comes in our lives for a reason. :) I'm glad that you came into mine because you're an awesome dude and an even more awesome friend!

  2. I am pleased that I was able to "fill the void..." [giggity]

  3. Do you find yourself growing more jaded as you approach 30 or is it merely a quiet confidence that you're content with your current relationships? For me, being burned by close relationships in the past has made me reluctant to make new friends, but truly value the ones that have been there for me while being burned.

  4. Thanks, Jenn... I totally agree with you. And I definitely consider you a great friend!


    I have been burned in the past as well, and I guess you could say that has jaded me somewhat. But those experiences have also helped me realize how blessed I am to have the relationships I do have. It's a bit of a cause-and-effect relationship, but the end result is the same. :)

  5. So, back to "filling the void..."

  6. You wrote this blog with a positive, but hard-edged flair. The topic of friendships is not always the easiest one. As we grow older, the realization of who matters becomes clear--blatantly. I don't find it wrong to make that realization and do something about it. It reminds me of the excellent quote by an excellent writer:
    "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss.

  7. Kai,

    I'm glad that you see EXACTLY where I'm coming from. It's funny how my perspective on this particular topic - and many others, in fact - has evolved over the last couple years. Sometimes, tough decisions have to be made to improve the state of one's life. And I feel really confident about the way my life is shaping up. Thanks for your part in helping me come to this particular conclusion. =)