Growing up, never once did I feel like I needed more friends.
Until summer of 2006 when I joined Facebook and instead of the 5 or 10 friends I loved and with whom I felt belonging, all of a sudden I craved hundreds of friends, or even the lofty goal of thousands, which a couple of my more popular connections had achieved.
At some point, I started noticing when I started to tell a story about "a friend," which was something I had read in my feed. I would correct myself with "well, Facebook friend," or eventually "acquaintance."
But when I share the story, I'm telling it as if I were there. As if I in any way were a part of the experience. Or at the very least, as if my best friend had told me the tale in person; though none of this is possible given the fact that we have only ever exchanged a few sentences.
How did I become so dependent on relating to other people through sharing stories that I would tell them as if it were fiction from a novel. No more real or tangible than a fairy tale, but experienced in full within the mind of the reader.
I became conscious of this in real life (IRL, for you kiddos) when I started feel the pull of attempting to be everyone's friend. A feat, my friends, which I learned is not at all possible. Because it's draining trying to be there for everyone, and leaves no time or energy for me to love myself.
And as I am striving to have self compassion, I'm also learning to set boundaries. So against my therapist's guidance, I made a list. (She's opposed to me turning everything into an action item or goal.) Naming the handful of relationships I wanted to focus on investing, I drew a line in the sand -- actually, on the paper -- setting who I am going to prioritize with my time. Everyone else, though wonderful people, take me past the bandwidth to give, causing myself to suffer.
To be candid, I worry that this might be perceived as narcissistic, or selfish. But at the end of the day, in order to be there for the people in my life whom I love, I have to be my own best friend first.