As an introvert, I rarely contact anyone I ever met. It feels unnatural and tiring to be constantly ‘on the phone’ for social reasons. With that said, frequently I get a feeling of guilt that I can’t bring myself to keep in touch no matter how hard I try. But is it that important to keep in touch? Is it the only way friendships work?
When I lived in Latvia I had 15 classmates who were also my friends, couple of neighbour kids I frequently hanged out with and my best friend from another tutor group. So, it was a decent group of people. I would message at least 5 of them on a daily basis. At the time we would talk about series we’re watching, random gossips in school and only very rarely about actual news that were happening in the ‘real’ world. That was a kind of standard I assumed is normal and healthy.
The kind of friendship that I experienced in that country was based on solid values of community, understanding and respect. It meant that you’re invited and are expected to attend all barbecues and parties, camping nights, birthday parties, and if someone is in trouble or just sad you got about 10 shoulders to cry on. Maybe it was because we were kids, but it counted as rude to constantly joke with sarcasm and jokingly name-call others. In my home country, compliments are accepted and highly encouraged. If you know someone in Latvia and you see them in the middle of a busy street, there is no car that will stop you both from giving each other a hug [or at least to wave to each other]. And a word ‘friend’ in Russian and Latvian mean someone you knew for a while, someone you know well [not someone you just met]. To my surprise it isn’t like that in UK.
When I moved, I was just about 16 years old. Even though I have finished secondary school in Latvia and was ready for college, they didn’t accept me because I was just below 16 years of age. I had to go to school for an additional year, so my mother registered me in Glenmoor and Winton Accademy in Bournemouth. On the first day couple of really friendly people introduced me to their group, but once they understood that I can’t really speak their language yet they stopped talking to me [which wasn’t helping me to learn English quicker by the way]. So I’ve learned one thing in those trying times – it was unacceptable for me to have an accent if I wanted to fit in.
And since then I wasn’t exactly back to my old self of messaging someone in the evening just to ask them how they are doing. From my observations, in English language a friend could mean a person who you just met and who is friendly. Also, I feel like in UK people are very independent, much so that you can go months without talking to someone and still be ‘friends’. For some reason, I sense many walls that English people set up between each other – silences are ‘awkward’, making a compliment or receiving one is ‘awkward’, you should small talk, and don’t you dare bringing any of your problems into the conversation!
Well introverts are not like that… We love to dream, talk deeply, fixate on one small thing and look at all sides of it until there is nothing left to say. Or just not talk – when the social battery reached its limit and a jaw hurts because we’re not used to talk for long. Silence is never ‘nothing’, but it is also never ‘awkward’. Similarly, we don’t rush into being someone’s friend, a small circle of people to whom we can commit ourselves is much better.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is…
there are people and they are different, with different personalities composed of different cultures. What is acceptable in one group of people may not be acceptable in another, you just got to find community that fits you [as an introvert it can be other introverts!].
Is it important to keep in touch? I don’t believe so, unless it is for business reasons. The older we get the less is the need to keep in touch. The feeling of guilt from not keeping in touch because that somehow compromises your friendship is bullshit. Being a decent human is more important than that. So, don’t be ashamed to message someone you haven’t talked to in a while! Friendships are for life [we’re human after all], our connections shouldn’t have an expiration date.