My Melancholy Lead Me To Become “That Friend…”

to be that friend

(a linkup with Thinking Out Loud, Treat Yourself Tuesday, MMM, and Friday Favourites)

My acting teacher Cindy says that inside my body, lives an old soul. She tells me that despite my youthful appearance, I am mature for my age. And that deep inside, I hold a beautiful melancholy. How melancholy could ever be beautiful was beyond me, I thought as I expressed it was hard for me to make friends because I wasn’t spontaneous like other kids. I didn’t crack good jokes and I didn’t understand theirs. I longed to fit in and have friends think of me not just an option, but one of them. I longed to have them chase me down instead of myself chasing after them. I longed for all of this because I felt much alone in the world. She says it’s because I’m deep; because I have soul. And it is hard for a maturity like mine to to make connections in the superficial, immature world of high school. I tell her that sometimes I feel lonely, but sometimes, I also like to be alone.

She says she was like that at my age too.

“Why can’t I just be fun? Why am I so serious all the time?” I say. “Why can’t I be like other people? Goofy, funny, witty, and…just fun?

sad selfie

Frustrated and sad on the inside.

“Why can’t I just be fun? Why am I so serious all the time?” I say. “Why can’t I be like other people? Goofy, funny, witty, and…just fun?

She asks me, softly to embrace my melancholy instead of frowning upon it and instead of being funny, what makes me a good friend.

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I know what makes me a good friend.

For one, I am a good listener. I hold the space for their joy and their sadness. I have an appreciation for everything beautiful in life, even though I can’t see any in mine. I look for the goodness in their hearts and I accept them for who they are. I am there for them when they need me. I care about them. I don’t tell secrets.

And now, writing this, I realize something else–I am the very type of person I wish I had in my own life. I wish I had somebody to rejoice in me rejoice, and delights in my delights. I wish I had somebody to fight for me when I was hurt. I wish my sadness was also their sadness and I wish someone loved and supported me like my life was somehow metaphorically theirs.

This past Saturday night, October 4th, this side of me was put to the test. My life has never been dramatic, but I received a call from a friend I went running with a while back and she was crying. It was 9pm and I was just getting ready for bed early as I planned but I put everything aside and ran out the door to meet with her outside a neighborhood school. As soon as I saw her, she ran into my arms and we embraced and she let the tears flow. I patted her back and told her it was all going to be okay, whatever happened. We ended up talking for an hour as she told me everything going on at home. Her abusive father, much like mine, and her in-denial mother. She talked and I listened and tried to reassure her that she is not what her father’s expectations are. I told her that she was her own person, not the junk that her fathers treats her as. She asked me how I stay so strong and I said, “Hope. And being kind to myself. I can’t change the way they treat me but I don’t have to swallow their poison…

…I spit it back out when they’re gone.”

Because it is true. I have lived an abusive childhood all my life. I knew suffering. I knew what it feels like to be treated like a burden. I knew loneliness. I also knew ravenous rage. I knew the answer was no even before the question came out of my mouth. I knew domestic violence and I knew I wasn’t living my life for myself anymore; I was living my life for them and that pleased them. Above all, I know self-loathing.

But I also knew how to fight, even if I lead me to dangerous extremes, it’s also lead me to my greatest successes. I recognized I didn’t have to take in their abuse and fight back actively. I learned to nodd and let it go and not penetrate my heart and let their painful words sink in. I know what they say is faulty, so I disregard them.

It’s so nice to be that friend. The friend that others run to because you’re the only one they trust ; the only one who they feel safe spilling their hearts to because they will hold you, support you, and talk and listen to you and heal your wounded soul. It’s an honour to be that friend.

That night I realized that although I might not be funny, witty playful like most of my youth out there, I hold a quality that they don’t have. I’m not superficial. I’m real, and sincere.

In the end, my melancholy serves me be a true friend.

athletic banquet

Me, in the center with the cross country/track team at the athletic banquet.

Among your group of friends, who are you? Are you the peacemaker? The jokester? The tag-along? Or do you fee like the wallpaper, like me?

What makes you a fantastic friend, and what do you look for in others?

  • I can relate to your thoughts here, Linda. I, too, have been told I have an old soul and am very mature for my age–ever since I can remember. But I’m happy you see the value in this rare form of old soul beauty we seem to have–it took me a while to accept it of myself! Yes, I’m not always the crazy kid who will dance wildly at parties, I’m not always the one to come up with the funniest jokes, I’m not the one who likes to be out all night with friends going from place to place just to stay up late for no reason at all…And that’s okay! Because I’m lucky to have found a few friends and loving boyfriend that accept my personality for what it is. They respect and appreciate it, and I am blessed. Thank you for bringing up this topic, though, as I feel many more out there CAN relate, just as I have!

  • We could totally be twins! I’ve always been kind of the mom figure in the group since I was more mature for my age. My first couple of jobs after high school I was always the youngest but still just as mature as everyone else. It’s not a bad thing and like you said, you can be that friend who can listen and empathize. I know it’s hard to not have someone to listen to who cares as much as you care…but you do have this blog! Writing can help immensely especially when you have so many friends reading. 🙂

  • So people judge me to be the CRAZY, GOOFY, NUT JOB, PARTIER… And yes, I definitely am that… HA HA AH BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT I do have my melancholy, “old soul” side. People who know me well, tell me that I am like a 70 year old in my body, because I do love to go to sleep early and wake up early and such… But really those habits are what turn me into the WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE type of person I am! LOL!!!!! HA HA HA AH AHA HA! I am actually a very sarcastic person too and vulgar, yeah I definitely curse a lot and say some crude thing, but not maliciously AT ALL, I just say stuff cause I have word vomit, lol.

  • Sounds like you have been through more in your short life than anyone should ever have to endure. It’s great that writing your blog is so cathartic for you. With age comes maturity and sometimes it takes way longer for others to reach that and catch up to you. You sound like a great friend to me. It might take you a while to find the people who appreciate you but they are out there.

  • Ugh, I do not like labels. I like being a mix and showing my different qualities depending on the situation. Like you I sometimes feel lost among the crazy, extroverts in my life, but I try not to let it bother me. Usually, taking a little break from them helps, too.

  • You sound like a great friend, and that is more important than being someone who is funny and in your face all the time (which is, frankly, annoying). I have been through quite a few tough experiences myself but they’ve all made me a better person for it.

  • Great Post!!! You sound like an amazing friend!!!

    My circle of friends has changed over the years! I used to have crazy fun friends, that created the drama I craved in my life! I see that “NOW.” And that’s OK I loved those friends and how much crazy fun we had!

    Now my friendship circle has changed to friends that are like minded and supportive. Positive influences that I crave and need in my life! Really ALL of them

    I had to ditch the toxic relationships, because I had had enough crazy fun for three lifetimes! These crazy friends, were “fake” friends, And I wouldn’t go back and change them for anything.

    I’ve changed they didn’t. I didn’t have to look for the Positive friends, they just came to me. <3 And I LOVE them all! It's so nice to have real friends!


  • Sounds like you have fun friends (love the photo) and what type of friend am I? Probably the bossy friend. LOLOL!! You are not wallpaper. #wowlinkup

  • Liziheartvegetables

    I’m the super outgoing one, usually! I love having friends of all types though. Quiet, funny, seriously, I think it helps you balance things out 🙂

  • I think it’s so, so important to embrace the traits that make us who we are instead of trying to fight against them in the hope of becoming someone we think we “ought” to be. I’m an old soul and I very much enjoy peace and solitude. It was a hard thing to accept when I was younger, especially with all the crazy things happening in high school and college, but it gets a lot easier as you get older… So don’t beat yourself up over your melancholy — it’s not a bad trait to have at all 🙂

  • Laura

    I think I am an old soul too although when I was a few years younger
    (now 18) I remember being funny with friends. Seems like another life
    now, because I am filled with sadness. There are times when I don’t know
    how I will ever get back to a good and positive attitude. Of course for
    someone dreaming of being a writer like me (I am french by the way, so
    ignore my english pls) melancholy is sth I am used to but unlike your
    acting teacher I feel like its more a burden than sth to embrace. I
    think because we are mature we make the decisions that are also the most
    reasonable. This can go very far. I started to abstain from general
    pleasures because I felt and still feel like I am not worth it or don’t
    need it anyway – enjoying food (lead me to orthorexia… now I only feel
    “safe” about coconut oil and meat but still find myself binging on
    stressful days), talking to someone (so parents don’t count because my
    relationship with them sucks, who’s left? I actually talk to myself.
    Like you Linda, I think “What is wrong with me?”), living in the moment
    (I have a list of what I need to get done in a day, usually school work,
    and often in the evening I still don’t relax because I am so anxious
    about the next day)… I wish I could be disciplined like you to be a
    fitness addict! I so so so much understand your need for someone to
    stand up for you or chase you done. I remember even when I wasn’t sad
    that I still had to run after my friends and ask them to go somewhere
    because I was always the second or third choice for them. I want to believe some day it will get better. I hope I make it to that day and find people who support and care for me:)

  • Amanda H

    It sounds like you are a great friend! Never let go of what makes you special, because it will make you an even better friend and stronger person!

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  • Heather @ Housewife Glamour

    Your teacher is so right. It’s easy to compare yourself to those around you, but you shouldn’t. You have qualities about you that they don’t have, and who knows… maybe they say the same thing about you? You sound like a great friend! Don’t ever change just to “fit in”. Do what makes you happy and be the person YOU are! <3

  • Savvy WorkingGal

    When I was your age I was a cross between the tag-along and the wall flower depending on the situation. I grew up in an abusive household too. After I left I went into overdrive and worked on my career and supporting myself. Now that I’m 53 I’m burnt out and kind of wished I would have worked through my past more. I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and difficulty saying no. During college and well into my 30’s I was the friend to go to when you needed to talk. I loved every minute of it – it made me feel needed and I love helping them. In my 30’s I went through a bad breakup, went back to school and struggled to pass the CPA exam. I didn’t have time to help these friends and most of them drifted away. Now that I’m married, working in a stressful job and drawn back into my family drama after my parents divorce a lot of that energy goes into helping my mom and siblings, so I still don’t have time to help friends – that is probably what I do through blogging. My one closest friend is kind of in the same situation I am and that is all I can deal with now. I am so glad I discovered your blog today. Looking forward to more.

  • Catherine Basu

    AW I just want to give you a big hug! I was much like you growing up, far older than my peers in maturity level and wishing I could be more fun. You sound like such an amazing friend. Keep being yourself! Sending lots of love and strength your way <3