I have been terrible about accepting friend requests on Facebook. I don’t delete them or anything; I just let them sit there, unattended.
I’ve tried to rationalize over the years (yes, some have been waiting for a response from me since at least 2010) that I can only manage so many people on my Facebook feed before the whole thing spirals out of control. But perhaps I am just trying to feel like less of a horrible human being, since – as I think more carefully about it now – every reason I can come up with sounds shallow at best and resentful at worst.
Sometimes I’ve thought, “Well, I hardly know that person!” What, so if you don’t know them well, they can’t have anything to say that you’d like to hear? This could have been a way to get to know them better. Worse still, I admit that I’ve thought, “They want to be my friend? HA! They wouldn’t have given me the time of day back in junior high!” Seriously, Lori? Perhaps they have matured since they were twelve… and perhaps you have not. Have you honestly held a grudge for that long?
But maybe it’s not a grudge at all. Maybe I haven’t let go of the insecurities I had way back then. I am
famous notorious for my willingness to share my faults and failings with the world; perhaps the people I was worried would find fault with me then are the same people I am worried will judge me now. For what, you ask? Well, mostly for not living up to my potential. Back in the day, I felt like I was going to be someone. I was going to do something amazing with my life. I didn’t know what that was, exactly, but I was going to make a difference in the world.
Instead, I have lived a pretty quiet life. With the exception of the years I spent teaching, I’ve worked steady but unchallenging jobs. I haven’t found a cure for anything or solved a world problem, nor have I written a novel or even managed a team of people. Most of my successes are more personal. I have a strong, long-lasting marriage; a fantastic child; incredible friends; a loving, close-knit family. I’ve seen the world, made people laugh, and been an extra mom to a tribe of young people I adore. I don’t undervalue any of these things, which are more important to me than fame and fortune. I guess that deep down I just expected myself to get those, too.
Anyway – do you want to know why this whole friend request thing is on my mind so much today?
Believe it or not, two different people I know had teenaged sons die this week. Both had been sitting in my queue of friend requests for ages. (In both cases, I only realized I had not accepted their requests when I went to offer my condolences. They’d showed up in my queue periodically since they were “Friends of Friends.”) For all these months, I could have gotten to share in their lives, and instead I feel I popped in opportunistically at the last minute. I am, of course, devastated to think of the pain they must be going through, but I’m also feeling regret for not having shared more of their happy times with them before I shared in their loss. I might have gotten to know their children in life if I’d made the effort when they reached out to me.
So tonight I went through and accepted a ton of friend requests. I skipped the people I have never heard of; I’m not sure why they want to be friends with me, anyway. I’m a little concerned that I still skipped over some people on the list that I do know. Apparently I have a little more soul searching to do!