We hate competition, yet, we were moulded by the concept since school. No, this is not another shot at the public school system. This is also not on how some of us grow out of the condition of the old, while others may not grow at all.
We can’t go through life alone. That’s why we made friends, and sometimes, if we’re lucky, we picked a special someone and made him or her, well, the special someone. Sometimes you marry them, sometimes it’s just a commitment of the heart, but regardless, they have become your life partners.
Then the clash sometimes happens. See, some friends had been with you since the beginning of time (ok, a bit of exaggeration, but you get the point). They stick with you through thick and thin, through your ups and downs. Some you lost contact for ages and yet after meeting them again, the friendship rekindled, as if it never stopped at all. We’re fortunate to have friends like that – through the victories and fuckups, through the heartbreaks and triumphs, through the wounds and recoveries.
Competition, special someone, friends, so where does that lead us?
The inevitable truth eventually comes to play, one that made us realise how lacking we are and yet all of us has the same. One that reminded us of our limitations.
Throw in time, every minute of the 24 hours you have in a day, add in competition, and see how friends and the special someones fight for it. Date nights vs old-school hangouts. Career advancement celebrations vs BFF’s recent infatuation. A surprise dinner that didn’t materialise vs the return of a childhood friend.
In the middle of it all, there’s you. Left feeling guilty after the wake. Sure, you may vow to not do it again, but that’s what you said the last time. Sure, you used some productivity hacks from a new guru to shave some time. Yeap, you can even have honest conversations about it with those involved, thinking they would understand. The thing is, they do, but you still don’t. That’s why the guilt it still there.
I’ve been all the characters in a little predicament. I was the close friend who was taking too much of my friend’s time. I was the special someone who was left waiting anxiously. I was also the one in the middle, governed by guilt. I have let people down, people I care about, for what in hindsight was trivial. The truth was my friends will always be there, and they would understand my absence from the table that night. The reality was after the recent heartbreak my childhood friend endured, he would have found another love of his life in no time. The fact of the matter is, there is a strong reason for that decreasing number of attendees for that class of 99 reunion dinner.
But a wife left at home feel she was left behind, and over time, the tension builds. But a husband on diaper duty is fighting hard at something he was ill-prepared with, and needed a helping hand. But a girl friend’s first time baking outcome is left for cold, along with her feelings for the one she intended to share the cake with. But a boyfriend’s all out romantic surprise dinner date with his hours of labour in the kitchen is left in the hanging, with him sitting in the dark in the presence of the diminishing flames of the candles.
Of course, it gets more complicated when family members are in the mix, and who can forget the “me” time?
The truth is, after two big failures of relationship, I still struggle with this, but I did come out from the graveyard of broken heart with a few thoughts in mind:
If you’re the poor chap in the middle:
- Your friends may have been there for you since day 1, so they probably will still be there later. An occasional hang out is epic, but remember the ones at home waiting for your return.
- Don’t take things for granted. As abundant your mindset is about things, your life partner may not think so and will not hesitate to throw in the towel.
- Introduce your special someone to your quirky friends and sit back as you watch them get to know each other.
If you’re the special someone (yes, you’re still special even though he or she may not say it enough)
- Don’t wait for your life partner to make the move to spend time with you. Find joy in things you can do by yourself, like 10,000 pieces puzzles, plan another MUSE business, or look for that friend you used to hang out with all the time.
- Be honest about your feelings, and try to have a proper, open conversation about it. Harbouring the grudges within will only make a grinch out of you.
- Are you being too clingy? If so, well, time to pick up crochet or do a Games of Throne marathon.
If you’re the friend:
- Constantly remind your dumb friend of the opportunities he or she is missing by not investing in the relationship.
- Try to plan activities where his or her special someone can come along, and dial down the nostalgic, adolescent, flashback for the 104th time. Show interest, be on your best manners, and who knows, they may have hot single rich tall hot smart single friends? Did I mention single?
- Always be there when said dumb friend has gotten him or herself into some shit, dunk a few beers, go for a car ride, and for once, make your mom proud and give a really solid practical advice.
The battle will still be there, but at least arm yourself better to win the war.