“I Am No Stranger to Strangers.”

(Old image featured – 2015)

I am no stranger to strangers.

Every time something shifts in my life, I momentarily forget past occurrences and only look forward. My memory gets foggy, and the concept that “this seems familiar” disappears for half a second.

Thinking back, this is not the first time I’ve heard these words, sunk into these feelings, or received these blows. However, I do know one thing for sure – I’ve finally learned to handle it the way I should.

When it comes to red flags, it may or may not be obvious. For some people I meet, I get this anxious feeling. This particular knot that says,

Be friendly, but do not trust.

And when I feel this, I am sure to be on my guard. Do not get too close, do not reveal too much, and do not let them in.

The second kind of red flag comes in stages. There is a series of yellow flags before the red, and only when the red appears is it too late. When I was younger, I disregarded yellow flags for the sake of giving the benefit of the doubt – something I realized I am more than notorious for giving blindly.

I can recall a memory from when I was 14.

I was visiting a church with a friend who I now call stranger. I sat, feeling out of place when a girl walks in. She walked with confidence, and she had a presence that I admired. She was much older, much more mature than us.

I don’t like her. She’s full of herself. The underside of her hair is blue, and it’s tacky. No one likes her.

As my friend said this, I took her words and applied it over the girl’s image. Yet even as I did, the other young girls my age flocked her and showered her with compliments. In the midst of her mini gathering of fans, she turned to me.

Oh, you’re new! What’s your name? Are you coming here regularly now? I haven’t been here in a while, so I’m sorry if I didn’t recognize you.

I wanted to think she had on a facade for the sake of making a good first impression, but to this day, I really don’t think she was. We talked about her hair, and later she introduced me to her friend with whom I kept in contact with for some time.

From that small experience, I should have known better that your friends’ impressions of people become your own impressions. But what if that wasn’t a real friend? Would that make their impressions invalid?

I am no stranger to strangers.

Once at 10, once at 14, and again once more at 22.

There is no age limit for lessons to be learned. Fate will make you experience the same situations over and over again – same circumstances, different people – same feeling, different words said – until you finally learn which way is the right way.

So what have I learned?

Those who have high standards for whom they trust but who are not trustworthy are not to be regarded, and their impressions of me will not change my impression of myself.

Memories, once invalid, lose all sentimental value. When you originate the initial problem to its start date, all fond and happy moments lose meaning. Now, they are merely occurrences experienced with a stranger. Do not give them weight.

The friend who is meant to stay in your life will never leave. True friends have a purpose in your life, and regardless of the amount of time spent, there is more to be done. They are the non-romantic soulmates who will keep aiding along your spiritual growth. You may not always agree with each other, but you always find your way back. Being annoyed with each other is a natural thing, but if you let that annoyance tear you two apart, then it’s time to say goodbye.

I will not try to save a sinking ship that keeps sabotaging itself whether its intentional or not. The life savers on that ship have been thrown to me, but I will not bend. A sabotaged ship can save no one.

There is a reason why I say I trust my friends blindly.

Do what you want, I am not your keeper.

Make your mistakes because it is your life to live.

I will turn a blind eye to the malice others see because I befriend your character – your being – not your actions.

I trust you with my eyes shut because the moment a line is crossed, I can open my eyes, see you for the person I let you be, and turn away. That blind trust is gone, and you are a stranger once more.

There is no magical place where all lost friendships go. They dissipate into thin air, and life goes on. I let it go, and I won’t hold on.

It isn’t worth saving.

Temporary friends add filter to your vision that you must remove once they depart.

The genuine friends are the ones who keep your sight clear.

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So Who is it Today?

Maybe there’s a reason people nowadays have a bark far worse than their bite.

I mean, I’m guilty of it. Seriously, who isn’t? Who can honestly admit with a straight face that you have never made an open-ended post about someone using the pronoun “you”?

140 characters seemed like the right amount to give when it came to subtweets on Twitter in its early era before nearly everyone in my high school owned one. And back then, it seemed perfectly reasonable to just type out

“Why are you so annoying”

as opposed to actually saying it out loud.

Congratulations, Millennials! You found a loophole to cyberbullying. It’s not really an insult because how can you be sure it’s about you? I mean, it’s easier isn’t it? Stir up some paranoia because then who’s really the bad guy here? So who is the real victim:  the one who thinks they’re doing the annoying or the one who’s actually annoying? And is it any less terrible to put it out there without any names, leaving people to guess?

I think the more disturbing part of the subpost culture is that it’s 2017, and people are still doing it.

You know why?

Yes, you, I’m writing this because literally just before I hit the “write” button on WordPress, you posted something just as bad.

In my head, there are two different kinds of subposts:

  1. The ones that come from the bully
  2. The ones that come from the bullied

Both are bad, but the second one I think is worse.

Now I can see why that might be cruel on my part, but let this sink in for a second.

The Type A individual who is the bully posts these things because those are their thoughts. If you asked them what they were thinking, sure, they might tell the truth, but then again, if you’re the one they’re talking about, they might lie. Regardless, there isn’t much of a fascade there. Type A puts it out there because if they can’t say it, they’ll type it.

And then there’s Type B.

Let’s put a persona to Type B: this is the person who is the oddball. No one had to say it outright, but Type B knows “I’m different than everyone else. I don’t fit in like they do.”

When a Type A is let down, they get angry. When Type B is let down, they look for sympathy.

Subposts from Type B only have one purpose whether they know it or not:

“What happened?”

“Are you okay?”

“Do you need to talk to someone?”

Ahh, there’s the attention they needed. There are consequences of being a Type B individual, and it has to do with something along the lines of things not being as they appear.

The need to make a subpost needs to expire.

The milk that spilled is already spoiled – it was going to get thrown out anyway.

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