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As I ended with last time, friends are who you express yourself to. Only recently, due to a number of examples in my life, this idea finally clarified itself enough that I could articulate it out loud. Like so many ideas we have, we know it unconsciously, but can’t put our finger on it.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve had to watch my girlfriend, whom I love deeply and live with, go through an enormous personal struggle. When boiled down to it’s most basic form, the problem is expression pure and simple. It’s having people you can truly talk to.

Since graduating college, the majority of her friend base has moved out of the NOVA area and started lives in different cities, a few even in different countries. And no matter what technology can do for us, this separation inherently causes a drop in communication. A diminished connection with our friends is a diminished ability to properly express ourselves.

Her stressful, corporate work environment also hasn’t helped her feelings of isolation. She often complains about the difficulty in creating friendships in the professional world, and how the corporate structure seems made to impede that deep strand of connection that turns cordial co-workers into close knit comrades.

These lamentations have been really enlightening for me to hear. As someone who’s always seemed to have a close team of friends to surround himself with, I’m learning to grow more appreciative of the friends in my life, as well as realizing the fact I can count on one hand the new friendships I’ve made since entering the workforce. Zero. I get along with my co-workers, sure. But it’s that discovery where you realize you wouldn’t know these people or have any connection to them if not for business.

Naturally, I worry about my girlfriend’s feelings of isolation and have made efforts to introduce her to my group of friends, beyond the boyfriend-girlfriend obligation. And she fits in very well. But as she’s rightly pointed out, my friends are not her friends.

I didn’t really understand this until she and I went on vacation a few weeks ago. The vacation where I began this blog in fact. While relaxing down on the beach in Kill Devil Hills, I was quickly overcome with an immense feeling of confinement. Being alone. I was with my favorite person in the world, and a whole group of likeminded peers, but I felt cut off. Why? Well, the answer is simple. They were her friends. Not mine. And in that moment, I finally understood.

I wasn’t going to talk movies into the wee hours of the night with these people, I wasn’t going flesh out script ideas like I do with my group. These were her friends; and while I was going to get to know them as best I could, my connection to them wasn’t organic.

As I continue to watch the woman I love battle with this problem, it only cements in my mind that expression is a fundamental necessity in all humans. You don’t have to be a “creative” and you can be the quietest person in the room, but the need to tell someone else what we’re thinking lies within all of us.

More to come.

 

Zack Gross