Once again, I am struck by the overwelming urge to do more. I am not doing enough. Not doing enough to better myself, not doing enough to better the world around me, not doing enough to help people, not traveling enough, not loving enough, not living enough. I want to do more.
But it seems so difficult just to do what I must to get by, doing "enough" would be impossible. There is never enough time or enough money or enough energy. The whole situation is very frustrating.
This is stemming from a wonderful class I had tonight. My last class of the semester, and it couldn't have been better. I put myself on the line a bit and took a journalism class this semester--the subject was coverage of international crises. As one of the (many...I still have 30 pages left to write...) requirements for the course, we were to do 20 hours of volunteer work somewhere in the community and report back on it (write a field report and do an little informal oral presentation). Today, our last class, we had those presentations. And the organizations people worked with were so fascinating, so vital, and so in need. I ended up wanting to volunteer for all of them. And I ended up feeling really, really bad, because I just used the non-profit job I already had to fill the course requirement. I wasn't cheating or anything--the professor OK'd it--but I feel like I should have done more.
So I'm trying to figure out how to do more. Now is the absolute worst time to be thinking in these terms--I've got PLENTY to do in the next week or so, thanks! But I am thinking about the summer. Yes, I have to take a calculus course, and yes, I have to work full-time, but what else can I do? My reasons are fairly non-philanthropic--I want to contribute because I don't feel like I am pulling my weight, and that makes me feel like ass. But whatever my reasons are, one more volunteer body is one more volunteer body, right? And it's about damn time I got involved in something beyond myself.
That being said, I move on to the subject of friends and my not having any. It's quite strange. I went out to lunch today at a campus place (between work this morning and class this afternoon), and I ran into a group of acquaintances from school there. I talked to them some, but sat by myself and read my paper for the most part. I go to lunch by myself often enough now that I don't really think of it as weird, but today I was very much aware that these people were thinking "Poor pitiful Grace, doesn't have any friends to have lunch with," or something of the sort. And it's true. There isn't a single person at my school that I would call a friend. There are a handful of people I say hi to or am happy to have class with, and I'm doing better with school-oriented social events (such as going to Happy Hour after class yesterday), but basically, I have no friends.
The really surprising part, though, is that having no friends doesn't bother me at all. I feel like I have lots of friends. I have my online friends, and I have my real-life friends, most of whom happen to be far away at this point, rendering my relationships with them very similar to those with my online friends (although really, reading my blog and being in my internet community are the only ways to communicate with me from afar on anything resembling a regular basis--I don't even talk to my mom on the phone more than once or twice a month). I absolutely adore the friends I have and hope they will always be my friends, geography be damned. But not having friends at school here just doesn't bother me. And it's not that I don't think tere are people here I'd like to be friends with--I'm sure there are--but I don't know how to form friendships intentionally, and I can't be bothered to figure it out.
Is that severely misanthropic? Maybe it's because I have Mark and we spend a ton of time together, but I honestly don't think that's the bulk of it. I just don't consider geographic nearness to be a particularly important factor in friendship, I guess. And at this point, I don't even consider regular communication to be that important a factor--as seeing Howell and Melinda and Ron and Sandy in D.C. the other weekend demonstrated to me, we fall right back into the same friendship no matter how recently or not we have talked. And to me, that's what it's all about. If they need me, I'm here, and if I need them, I trust they'll be around.
Still, I should probably attempt to be at least marginally social here. I'm really not an anti-social person. Just lazy, I guess. Or guarded? I don't know. Mostly I think I just don't have the patience to develop friendships over a long period of time--I love hanging out with good, close friends, but I'm not exactly enamored with the first date-esque stages before that. And making new friends really does remind me of dating, another activity I would never be good at and I'm kind of glad not to engage in.
This all reminds me of how strange it is to meet people IRL whom you have interacted with for a long period of time online. The idea that you are just now "meeting" them is so strange, because chances are you know more about them and have shared more with them than is true of most of the people you see quite often in your everyday life (at least in my circles, this seems to be the case). So it's not really meeting them. Ani has a line that goes, "I have only just met an old, old friend," and I always think of that when I meet someone whom I already know I like. It's a strange dynamic. On one hand, you wish you could just brush away all the preliminary getting to know you stuff that is inherent in meeting someone, but on the other hand, you don't want to be too familiar with someone who you "just met." And I know that I am far more open online that I would be in relationships with people in person, so it's weird to meet someone and know how much they already know about me. It's this strange feeling of not knowing what face to put on, because they are going to recognize that your public face isn't you--after all, they've never seen it before.
Actually, that makes it sound like it's a really excellent way to meet people, doesn't it? No pretenses that way. Why doesn't it actually work like that?
Or maybe it does.