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Self-Awareness as Self-Care: A Conversation Between Friends

I had been noticing something off with my friend lately. There were small things she was doing that were making it difficult for me to feel like a close friend to her. I saw myself becoming passive aggressive about little things because I could tell they were coming from a deeper, more troubled place than she was letting on.

As her friend, I wanted her to feel comfortable opening up to me about these issues; and if she wasn’t comfortable being vulnerable in that way, I felt unsure about how close our friendship really was, a friendship which she often praised for being so meaningful. In the process of trying to be a good friend by helping her see that she was in a tough spot, I was being a bad friend. I was trying to provoke her into a reaction. But finally, the opportunity arose and we just delved into it. I was finally able to be honest about why I had been reacting the way that I had been, and we discussed what was going on with her. It turned out to be one of the most productive and open conversations we’ve ever had. We revisited our conversation to share the lessons learned.

 

Mollie: Were you expecting that kind of conversation at all?

Lindy: Not at all. I mean, I think what you said to me was something I needed to hear. I had been going through a really rough time, and I hadn’t been addressing my problems.

Mollie: What about the way our conversation unfolded made you comfortable making those realizations?

Lindy: Since we’ve been close for a long time and our friendship grew a lot this year, and I felt like what you were saying came from a place of concern and care. I feel like you were honest and truthful, but also direct about what you had been noticing, and you were aware of what you had been doing to try and get me to open up. I feel like the variety of our conversation was what made me most comfortable—I knew it came from a genuine place. I feel like the genuineness of the conversation made me feel more comfortable. I also felt like I was comfortable opening up to you since we’re close friends.

Mollie: And I definitely felt bad about what I had been doing. I think that for me to bring this up with you, I needed to be aware of why I was feeling and acting the way that I was. And that is something that I try hard to do, and I think it’s something that has helped me in developing and healing friendships before—self-awareness, I mean. That’s actually the direction that our conversation went, isn’t it?

Lindy: Yes! I’ve always thought you were very self-aware, and knew what you liked, didn’t like, and what your boundaries were. And I realized that even when you did say some things or were passive aggressive, I didn’t respond or acknowledge it because I didn’t want to create conflict. What you told me about being able to speak my mind (from being aware of how things made me feel) was really valuable. And I feel like when we were talking about life in general, and not worrying about little mistakes, a lightbulb went off in my mind. I realized that speaking my mind if someone is not treating me right isn’t creating conflict, but addressing a problem and trying to solve it. Conflict would be to have just kind of let it go on and on and not been super happy, right? So I feel like that’s something I took away from it, too.

Mollie: If I remember correctly, I asked you a lot of questions—that’s actually how the conversation started. You were talking about something that bothered you, and you finished the statement with, “But yeah it’s fine, it’s like whatever.” A lightbulb went off in my head at this moment, because it sounded like a lie, both to yourself and me as your friend. I know you, and I knew that it wasn’t “whatever.” So I asked, “Why do you say that?” You sort of tried to avoid the question, but pretty early on you admitted that you were avoiding the situation.

Lindy: I did! And you saying something made me realize that I often just push things that make me feel sad aside, and don’t acknowledge when I’m feeling jealous, or sad, or angry, because I feel guilty for doing so. But talking with you made me realize that acknowledging some feelings is good. I hadn’t been taking good care of myself lately. I wasn’t taking the time to acknowledge my own feelings, and kind of brushed off problems I was having. I was also not treating my body well (by stress-eating sugar and putting off KAC workouts), so I was just a general mess. I think I needed to hear what you were telling me, even if it isn’t what I necessarily wanted to hear. You also inspired me to start journaling, which I have found so helpful.

Mollie: I loved when you said that you wanted to start journaling, because I was actually going to suggest it! That’s basically how our conversation concluded. You’ve been journaling for a few days now. How is it going? Has it proven helpful?

Lindy: Yes, journaling has been amazing. It’s made me realize things about myself that I didn’t before, and I think it’s also been nice to write things down and make them seem more set in stone and real. I feel like using self-awareness as a method of self-care, which you brought up, was so useful.

Mollie: We talked about how the methods of self-care that we often talk about—like taking a nap, exercising, bubble baths, eating a treat—can actually cover up what’s actually going on, the thing that is causing you to need the care in the first place. For me, journaling has been so helpful in making me feel safe, helping me grow as a person, and celebrating parts of my life that I might not remember if I wasn’t writing them down.

 

Since this conversation, communication has been simpler and kinder between us. We’ve had more discussions parsing out how direct each of us is comfortable being with the other person, and we’ve affirmed the usefulness of methods like journaling to aid in self-awareness. The more we discover about ourselves, the more our friendship has grown.

 

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2

 

Lindy is a current senior at Kenyon college majoring in Anthropology and Art History. She enjoys travel, books, cinema, art, food, and Scottish Whisky. Someday she hopes to travel around the world with a corgi named Max.
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