"Look Out For Me" Alex Catches Up

Hi, readers. So I’ve been pretty busy lately, and I haven’t really been sure how to best mediate that. In other words, my plate feels altogether much too full; I’m behind in my classes, I’m behind with applying for internships, I’m even behind on calling back my therapist. Hell, have y’all seen the last time I published an article? I’m behind on catching up. And, worst of all, it has started to get to the point where I’m so physically and emotionally drained by being behind on everything that I feel like I can’t catch up to where my loved ones are. (Perhaps you can relate). I forget to call when I mean to. I open a Snapchat and don’t realize I never responded til the next day. I must say: it totally sucks. Except *gasp* a light bulb went off recently. There’s a reason why it feels so disheartening and disorienting to fail to meet your loved ones where they are. It’s because they are your loved ones, and being behind in all other areas of life can feel like nothing in comparison to failing to be there for your friends. So (and this might be mainly for myself), let’s stop doing that. Let’s talk about the healing and strengthening power of platonic love.

 

Last week, I sat down in a class I share with a close friend who I’ve known since I moved to Seattle. We sit next to each other and, when we actually attend this class, we typically spend the 2 hour class period texting one another about miscellaneous things. We were about to take an exam, but all I could think about was how many assignments I still needed to finish, how many calls I still needed to make, and how many exams I still needed to study for. Oops. This exam was the one I needed to study for. Amazing. As I prepared to fly through the exam I knew next to nothing about, I felt my heart in my throat and my anxiety causing me to read the same question over, and over, and over. Then I felt eyes on me, and looked up. My eyes met my friend’s, and for a single moment my worry could cease, as I knew someone in the room was in my corner. She may not have known what was going on at that moment, but she didn’t need to know. Her glance told me that she was, literally, looking out for me. And that’s what I needed.

 

As I finished that exam, walking to turn in some forms (yes, they were late), I felt myself burst out of a bubble of anxiety and worry, if just for a second. I could smile, and breathe.

 

I notice little instances of my friends looking out for me now more than ever. This past weekend, I noticed that another close friend of mine always rests his hand on me for a moment, when I’m looking spaced out or look like I’m not there. When I look “off.” I think small things like this are nothing short of healing, and even magical. So many instances of bodily language, devoid of words or outright expressions of sympathy, yet full of compassion and understanding, can represent a great deal of love and care. And I know the little things I do resonate with my loved ones in similar ways. I think I’ve learned that no matter if they know what’s wrong or not, the people who love you and care about you will always look out for you. They notice when you look “off,” and it’s their care for you that inspires them to do something. And everyone has their own little way of breaking you out of your bubble, reminding you that you’re not alone.

 

For those of you in college: isn’t all of this sh*t so disorienting? More often than not, we lose any semblance of stable ground when we leave home. The supportive backing once provided to us is suddenly missing, accessible only on breaks and long weekends, if that. It’s nothing short of scary. This is why the idea of a “chosen” family is so important, and something I implore everyone to acknowledge and appreciate more regularly. Without a so-called “chosen” family, our time of developing out of our teens and into early adulthood can be extremely lonely. I’ve been there, I’ve felt detached, and time and time again I’m reminded that I need my friends. There’s something very grounding, beautiful, and inherently human about having someone with whom you share history, even if it’s just been a little over 2 years (in both my cases), showing you in their own way that they see you. The way platonic love manifests can take a million different forms, and the only truly important thing to note about that is that sometimes people will love you and care for you differently than you’d expect. Or differently than you’ve ever experienced before. Whether it’s a gentle tap on the shoulder, or a shared glance in the middle of an exam, or even something like cooking you dinner. Or making you laugh with a joke only you two find funny. Or playing a song they don’t love, just because they know you love it. The list goes on, and the love goes on with it.

 

So readers, take a second to acknowledge your friends, and thank them. Whether that means buying them lunch one day, or walking closer to them so they feel safe, or (my personal go-to) hugging them so tight their back cracks, make sure your friends feel supported by you. Life will feel out of control and confusing, and being there for your friends can feel difficult when you feel like you can’t even be there for yourself. But your friends are there for you, and are there to show you that you are worthy of love and appreciation. It doesn’t take more than a shared glance or a tap on the shoulder. It only takes a second to show people you care, and you’re here. While I may not always be 100%, on top of all my shit, or doing the best I feel I can do, I know that someone is looking out for me. And I’m looking out for them, too.

 

Update: I got an 80% on that exam. Trust your gut. You’re doing better than you think you are.