I'm not comfortable around dogs.
I grew up an only child. I never had a dog, a cat, a gerbil or a parrot. I enjoyed the company or a few goldfish, but besides for that my interactions with animals were few.
A dear friend of mine as three dogs- in her house!
A black lab, a mixed something, and small dog- like a terrier. When I first went to her house freshman year, I was completely unnerved. Constantly wondering where the dogs would move or decide to do next.
We've just entered the spring semester of our junior year, and last Saturday we celebrated my friend's 21st birthday. I had an amazing time and felt little to no anxiety, though we were in the same house with the same dogs, my perspective had changed since my first visit.
I had grown comfortable with what had originally made me anxious and uncomfortable.
Surprise and discomfort are human reactions to being exposed to something new.
Until recently, I avoided emotional expressions and meaningful friendships. During childhood, I rarely expressed my emotions or felt accepted by groups of my peers, sheltering myself, my ego, my compassion and desire for friendship beneath a wall of self-constructed unworthiness. A wall that was still up when I entered college. I often wondered why I had trouble opening up to people and believing that others actually enjoyed my friendship.
I ridiculed myself for being detached and not having stronger interpersonal relationships, my emotions and subsequent behavior originated from my memories and experiences.The friends and acquaintances of my childhood are starkly different from my group of friends now.
Celebrating with others, making memories and building support systems are new to me, and are the most cherished parts of my college experience. I was ashamed at how long it had taken me to learn how to be a real friend, but there was nothing to be ashamed about.
Just as it took time for me to get used to the dogs it required as much if not more time to learn how to build meaningful relationships.
My perceptions expectations of friendships were created around past hurts, let downs, mean middle school girls and childhood of independence.
Feelings are not good or bad. They just are. They don't need validation or condemnation. They exist and manifest themselves through a stream on consciousness contingent upon current situations and emotions. They need only be felt, understood and released- by me.
I say that to say this- don't worry if it takes a while to grow accustomed to something new or if it difficult to make sense or move past something old. Time is fluid and emotions are ever adapting to our experience. Life without feeling is empty, and life without love is pointless.
It is hard to go through life alone, and I am so thankful for all of my friends who have enhanced my life with fun and understanding, and according to me man's best friend only has two legs!
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.