Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone!

May God richly bless every one of you in the coming year!

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Well, it’s been a year…

A year ago, I decided that Nathan 1.0 wasn’t cutting it.  Therefore, to get me out of my comfort zone, I joined a group known as Homeschool Alumni. I decided at that point, that I would work on Nathan 2.0, who would be more social, less socially inept, and would have more friends – of a variety of persuasions and opinions.  Joining a new group gave me a chance to start over, to rewrite my social “programming”, so-to-speak, and build a social life based upon a much more solid foundation.

That is exactly what happened.  I jumped from approximately 1-3 friends my own age to about 30-40.  The best thing is, they are not all homeschooled, have come from different backgrounds, exist in different social circles, hold to different standards, and some of them aren’t Christian.  I’m proud to call all of them my friends.

Not only that, but I intend to keep them – all of them, if possible.  There’s this annoying saying that’s been going around that goes like this, “You will not always have your friends, but you will always have your family”.  It annoys me because it doesn’t have to be like that.  Family will not always be around, as my dad has found out with his family.  It is my goal to be friends with people indefinitely – even if they hurt me, even if they let me down.  Obviously, I’m not perfect, and have (and will) let people down, but my goal is to be there, no matter what happens.  So far (and yes, it’s only been a year), I haven’t lost a single friend I’ve made, and I intend to keep it that way.

 

How did this happen?

First, I started doing events with smaller groups of people – last year’s snow day, for example.  I did attend a hike in Nov., but that was still Nathan 1.0. 
I also started adding people to my IM list, and done my best to take an interest in them, as I recognized that Nathan 1.0 was too inwards focused.  I discovered all sorts of interesting things that people are doing, and have learned a lot about a whole range of topics, from cars, to sewing, to veterinary science, to linguistics, to mechanical engineering, to Star Trek, you name it.  Not only that, but nearly everyone on my list has shared with me their lives – both the good things and the bad, both victories and struggles, heartbreaks and elation – a level of trust I never really had experienced before, and for that, I am deeply thankful.  I will strive to do my best to keep your trust.

In addition to the above, starting in Feb., I’ve been forcing myself to attend social events with a lot of people, to get myself used to being in large groups of people. 

Going to those events, and surviving them, enabled me to step out further.  I planned a hike during spring break, and have been a part of the planning process for several events now.

In the summer, several people I know went on a temporary hiatus from our church – that caused me to get rid of some of the last remnants of Nathan 1.0 – I had always shied away from groups of people I don’t know, but the hiatus caused me to ask myself, “Why?”  Therefore, in August, my sister and I started going to the young adults group at our church.  It was probably the best decision I have made in a long time.  You guys are awesome!  I’ve learned a lot about convictions (a blog post I’m working on – probably one of the most controversial I have done so far – sufficed to say, I think a lot of people use “convictions” as a Christianese cover for pride, but that’s another topic for another time. 😛 ), how to be accepting of people different than me, and have reassessed my view on what things are really important in life and in friendships.

 

That brings us up to now.  With God’s help, I’ve made a ton of progress (or so I think), and I still have a loooooooong ways to go.  There are a few people (very few, thankfully 😛 ) who I’m still dealing with bugs left over from Nathan 1.0 – if I Seem Rather cold, Avoid eye contact, or similar things, bear with me as I eliminate them.  Unfortunately, old habits die hard. :( 

My question to you is (either IM me or post it in the comments, I don’t care), have you noticed a change in me since you first met me?  Has it been good or bad?  Have I affected your life (as in, if I were to suddenly disappear, would you notice)?  If so, in a good or bad way?

What’s the one thing I could improve on for Nathan 3.0?

Thanks a ton for all your help, support, and encouragement this past year, and I greatly look forward to doing things with all of you in the coming year. 😀

Friends…

Throughout my observations of friendships, both between my parents and their friends, and my friendships, I’ve seen what makes a good friend, and what makes a not-so-good friend.  I am far from an expert on friendships, but if you’re my friend, you can expect the following (and yes, I do make mistakes – if I do, feel free to hold me accountable. 😀 ):

 

1.  Transparency.  I strive to be a person who doesn’t give off the false impression that I’m perfect – I would like to be someone people can identify with.

2.  Confidentiality.  If one of my friends shares something they’re struggling with, or something they don’t want shared, I won’t share it.  If there’s a case where a friend thinks I’m disclosing even a hint of something they want private (this has happened in the past), I would really like them to tell me so I can remove it to their satisfaction.

3.  Genuinely caring.  Ideally, I’d like to be a person where friends feel comfortable sharing hurts/needs/etc., without worrying about me judging them or being too quick to offer advice.  Having very few friends for most of my growing up, I always wanted someone where I could share some things I was struggling with – things I didn’t even feel comfortable sharing with my parents, due to various reasons.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  Oh, and about teasing – I do like to tease my friends, but only to the point where they are having fun.  If they aren’t having fun, then that’s where I stop.  If one of my friends genuinely isn’t having fun, I would really like it if he/she told me that, and I will stop (and yes, this has happened to me before).  My kind of teasing is where everyone laughs, even the “victim”.  Consequently, you won’t see me teasing others (intentionally, anyway) about sensitive issues, for example, who they “like”, weaknesses they’re struggling with, teasing that makes them feel unnecessarily awkward, etc.  If I’m doing one of those things, I would like to know, so I can stop. 🙂

4.  Accountability.  If you’re my friend, and I see that you’re going somewhere where you shouldn’t be going, you can bet I’ll try to help you get back on the right path.  No matter how long it takes. 😀  I would hope my friends would do the same with me.

5.  Usage of friends.  i.e. I don’t.  My mom has had friends that were friends with her for what they could get out of it – when they were done with her, they “moved on”, and basically left my mom in the dust.  That was very hurtful to her, and I saw firsthand what happens when someone does that.  People can be so mean, sometimes. 😦  Anyway, when I’m friends with a person, I’m friends with them because of who they are, not because of what they can give me.  If you’re my friend, you’re basically my friend for life – it doesn’t matter what you go through, what you say to me, etc.  If God loved me, a person who is quite undeserving of such love, enough to send His Son to die for me, surely I can remain friends with others, even when they’re not having a good day. 🙂

6.  Being offended.  I can’t recall a time when I was offended.  Seeing firsthand someone who is offended at the slightest perceived offense made me want to go in completely the opposite direction with my friendships.  If you say something to me that can be taken the “wrong” way, I do my best to take it the “right” way, and assume the best about my friends.  After all, we’ve all made mistakes before, and said things that have come out wrong – why should I assume it was intentional? 

7.  My “availability”, esp. IM.  I make it a policy to never go “invisible”.  If I say I’m busy, I’m busy.  If my status is green, I’m (usually) available.  If it’s yellow, I’m away.  If any of my friends has a pressing issue they want to discuss, I want to be available if at all possible.  Again, it doesn’t matter if it’s a happy occasion, a sad occasion, a problem someone wants solved (I’ll assist with any problem if I can, but my specialty is computers. 😀 ), a need to debate/discuss something, or if someone just needs to talk to someone, as long as my status is green, I’m available.

Anyway, I’m sure more principles I follow will come to me, but the above are the ones I really try my best to follow.  I’m definitely not perfect, and my shortcomings are quite evident, but I do try my utmost to keep the above principles in mind.  If anyone has any suggestions/principles/critiques of the above, I’m more than open to hearing them. 🙂

 

P.S.  I tend to be rather curious, so if you don’t want IMing you about your status messages, please do either one of two things:  (1) Write really boring ones that I couldn’t care less about, (2) let me know I’m getting annoying.  I really don’t mind it if someone tells me I’m annoying – if I’m bothering someone, I really do want to know, so I can back off.