Friendships lost

I’ve always been complemented for having a welcoming, kind face thanks to that I did not have any problem gaining friends. But my temperament didn’t have a lasting effect; I can’t seem to maintain any long term relationships. Friendships end up being another task, hard chore to keep the relationship alive. 
I desperately want to establish strong ties. However, the day comes and I get depressed or unreasonably anxious, my ups and downs after a while drives them away. Everyone is consumed with not catching the negative vibe bug. I get how ‘negative energy’ can scare away new acquaintance, but it shouldn’t when it comes to close family members and friends, or do I have the concept of relationships wrong? According to research from the University of Warwick, depression is not a transmitted disease. Therefore, having a friend who is depressed can only increase the chances of his/her recovery. 
So, let’s rewind way back to when I was in school. I read books that had titles similar to ‘how to win friends’. I had a system, I would read several books about how to have friends and highlight the points that were repeated in every book, points such as smile, be helpful, ask questions and act interested in what they have to say. So I became Ms. happy face, always beaming. I smiled whenever I catch someone looking at me, then asked questions and was very interested in what their answers would be, always willing to help them out with anything. Needless to say I had more friends than I can fathom in a very short time. 
However, what the authors forgot to mention in their books or maybe what I failed to notice then was that if you have a low self-esteem, friends aren’t going to be the solution. I was so adamant in being everyone’s friend and for everyone to love me that I’ve became what they wanted to see in a friend.  
During my university days, I would make up excuses to go sit alone. A friend would see me sometimes sitting on my own and kindly joins me and I tell her that that was ‘my alone time’. I think that’s how it all started. I felt like I was always competing, I wanted to stay relevant. That’s when my gloomy attitude started to leak out. Before that I managed to keep it hidden inside the four walls of my bedroom. 
As graduation came close I knew my days with my friends were numbered. The forced commitment to go to classes was what kept our friendship alive. I am what you would describe as an introvert or home bound. Whereas, all my friends were blown out extroverts and I loved their energy, I enjoyed their extracurricular activities. But what I would normally opt to do is google the meaning of something or the relationship status of someone like Jerry Buting (married man). 
After graduating, I made promises to my friends and I, that I will stay in touch. But after few weeks away. And because I am a creature of habit I enjoyed my routine although at that time I would never own up to it because it didn’t suit my free spirit, hip lifestyle. I did manage to set dates. But setting a date for a meet felt forced I ended up getting charged up so I cancelled them due to my pre-meet jitters. 
Not having university, school to keep us committed I gradually drifted away. At first I blamed their marriage and work but the truth is I didn’t have the energy to stay friends with them. Depression drains almost all the energy out of me, on these days commenting or liking their picture on instagram is all the interaction I can muster. Most days I am left wondering why does it seem like everyone else in the world makes friends and keeps them so effortlessly. Is there a rulebook for relationships that I am missing?
I find that my state of being adopted had a lot to do with how I picked my friends and why I picked that much. I had a lot of identity issues and felt very isolated and I needed friends to fill that void. Although, I clearly enjoyed small crowds, the need to be loved and accepted by everyone was stronger. I ended up being an extrovert imposter. I found myself hanging out with the wrong crowds and when I say wrong I don’t mean bad, but their personalities never collided well with mine.  
I had expectations of how I wanted my friends to be like, I didn’t realize then and after many failed friendships that that is not what I really wanted, I picked fun, funny outgoing friends. I thought if I stick around long enough I might be like them. But I wasn’t, I enjoyed watching movies, reading half a book, listening to psychology lectures and podcasts, I loved spending hours talking about profound topics, losses, life lessons. That was my idea of fun. The kind of friends that would have suited me were sitting somewhere in the middle of the classroom, unnoticed. I wanted to be noticed and loved by many; the middle was out of the question then. 
Another after the fact discoveries about myself was my attachment and boundaries issues, I can be extreme with friends at times I would say intimidating things like ‘I feel like we are sisters’ and I would get a polite smile or ‘you are so sweet’ then abandonment issues rises up. I feel threatened so I will either campaign really hard to make them say ‘me too’ or leave before they ghost me out. 
I had plenty of friends when I said what they wanted to hear, when I heard their problems and made them feel good about themselves. Back then I needed permission to be myself and when I proceeded to unfold I always did it very mindfully. After countless therapy sessions being myself consciously went out the window. But I am mindful of my issues, I no longer feel crushed when a friend tiptoes quietly out of my life. Depression can wreak havoc on a friendship I’ve experienced that time after time. It takes someone who went through it to understand how straining it can get. 

Sharenters 

Parenting in the time before social media held sway, parents used to send pictures of their children to their relatives so they could carry them around in their wallets as a reminder of their loved ones. In those days, no one sent those pictures to strangers – that would have been considered absurd and dangerous. However, that is not the case these days for anyone with social media access and a child.
“Sharenters”, as they are sometimes called, live vicariously through their children, by putting them out there posing in cute outfits and sharing short videos of their children saying witty one-liners. They do this to gain more followers. In this context, “likes” are the modern-day equivalent of rank and status.   
Raising a child can be isolating. Once the first child is born a mother’s life is changed forever. But, by living through their child’s achievements, they bridge the gap that was once was filled with social activities. This is especially true now, when every household is a nuclear family and you rarely find a mother-in-law or aunt living in the same house, helping out with the day-to-day responsibilities of a child and sharing the joyful moments when a young kid says grown-up words. In this context, Facebook and Instagram bridges some of this sense of isolation.

However, sharenting is not entirely about inflated egos and a need for attention. The majority of parents find everything their children do to be special and nowadays, of course, capturing a special moment is easier and more accessible. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a wise idea.
The greater problem with all this is that children may grow up to care more about appearance than substance.
And there is also the dark side of the internet. According to the C S Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, 51 per cent of respondents said they had given out information that could be used to identify a child’s whereabouts. Even the most innocent of posts on social media could make it easier for predators to trace a child’s location.
“Parents are responsible for their child’s privacy and need to be thoughtful about how much they share on social media so they can enjoy the benefits of camaraderie but also protect their children’s privacy today and in the future,” according to Sarah J Clark, associate director of the University of Michigan, who is concerned by the overuse of sharenting and sharenters.
 The American actor Lena Dunham, who has spoken at length about the abuse she has experienced on social media, said that Twitter mentions “creates some really kind of cancerous stuff inside you”.
If an adult in the public eye with mature emotional health can’t handle harsh comments, what chance do the children of sharenters have?
Recently I stumbled across a post online, which contained hurtful remarks about a particular child’s appearance. This post criticised the child concerned for supposedly being overweight and having a weird-looking face.
When a parent unintentionally exposes their child to haters, I don’t think they realise the effect that those pictures and comments can have, particularly when the grown-up child stumbles upon them and read those negative comments, which can play a big damaging role in their confidence and self-image.

My peace was originally posted in the national newspaper