When I was 12 I decided that killing myself for someone's friendship when that person wasn't even inclined to like me in the first place was not only profanely asinine, it was also obscenely demeaning to myself. Who would I be kidding? They only liked me if I did things they liked. It was retarded. I wasn't going to play a part of that.
So for the most of middle school (some folks call it junior high; it was grades 6-8) I was a total reject. The trend started to buck in high school when you got 'cool points' (or something) for being original, but then we moved from the South to the West and I started over being on the outside again.
I didn't give a rat. Never have, never will.
But that was kids at school. That was a bunch of whining entitled brats who thought they'd feel better about themselves if surrounded by others who wanted their friendship. I'm sure, on a subconscious level of course, that when you are the object of another's desire (even if platonic) the message is sent that you have worth. It's not a bad gig, and I don't hold any particular malice (or do I?) towards those who denied me their friendship.
But I do have a struggle with my mission companions and those I served. I desperately want their friendship. I loved my mission. It meant so much to me; I poured my heart and soul into it. When I came back, I really expected a party of closely knit good friends waiting for me. I should have seen the writing on the wall, though... Most of the Elders I served with had already paired themselves up with BFF's to attend the other blue University in this state. I wasn't going there. (Huge can o' worms there...) As such, I was on the outside. As such, I didn't think anyone really wanted my friendship and ended up hurting a few of the ones who did because I didn't go to any great lengths to contact anyone immediately upon my return. (I apologized for to the ones I hurt, and meant it. I feel they've forgiven me. At least I hope they have.)
But where does that leave me now?
I have tried to contact a few of the people I served with. I was hoping for a more natural friendship, but I suppose the transition from the world of white shirts and ties to flip flops and goatees is a taller hurdle for some than it is for others. I've tried looking up and calling a few of the guys I thought I was close to. If we were to take the litmus test of enthusiasm, I was dead wrong about how close I was to them.
That kind of hurts. I mean, I can't push my expectations of friendship on someone else, and I'm definitely not going to be the gimpy nerdy kid who begs others for their friendship. I'm also not going to have any false pretenses about my likability. I'm somewhat comfortable with the fact that I annoy the poop out of scores of personality types and the people who fit them. It's not easy, because I like it when people like me (who wouldn't?!) and I am a fierce and loyal friend when the fraternity and love is reciprocated. I understand that naturally I'll get along with some better than others as interests and personalities align, but for the most part I make no man my enemy. (FMH, on the other hand...)
I realize this is long-winded, but it's been a long time coming. I have mixed feelings of anger and pain when I think of my mission, as well as the deluge of joy and love. It's hard to categorize; I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I miss the friendship and wish that I could have carried that with me back home. It's a real shame I missed that boat.
(As an end note, there is one Elder I never served with directly but went on exchanges with that has kept very good contact with me and I can't even begin to describe my gratitude for that. He is an upstanding man and priesthood holder; he has my utmost respect and loyalty. I thank him.)