Last year, when I was recovering from jaw surgery, I don’t remember much from that time. I read a book on Ruby, and I’m rereading it now because I forgot the whole book. I also watched the entire Avatar: the Last Airbender series with my husband, and three months ago, watching it again, felt like I’d never seen these stories before. But one thing I do remember from my recovery period was how many women came over to wish me well. Some brought tea and DVDs, others brought milkshakes or ice cream. Some came empty-handed and just talked with me, which couldn’t have been easy given how hard it was for me to speak in that state.
I was swollen and drooling, and I felt ugly. I hid behind a scarf when we went out because I looked so bruised and awful. Little children thought I was a zombie as I shuffled past. I really had no energy to put on my Social Mask. You know, that thing I put on when I go to social events, that thing that keeps me from offending everyone and makes me polite and a good conversationalist. Well, it was thoroughly discarded during recovery. I was very much Rachel at her Rawest. I probably said all kinds of off-the-cuff offensive things. You read my comics. You know how I am!
I noted well who came by to see me. It surprised me. In my young life, I’ve never had so many well-wishers. Why would they come over and see me? Such a trouble and bother? Why would they? Unless they were… friends? “Is Rachel a person who has friends now?” I wondered.
Now, I’ve always had friends. They’ve just been online and far away or fans or slightly insane. I’ve never had Sane Local Female Friends. Once I realized how many people saw me as a friend, I was deeply touched. If nothing else, surgery showed me who really cared about me, and it was more people than I thought.
So in the past year I’ve tried to cultivate those relationships and build new ones. I’ve been doing pretty well so far. I can no longer say that I “don’t like people.” (My husband says when he first met me, he could never imagine me going to a party and liking people or liking coworkers. I was under socialized.) I genuinely like a lot of people. I’ve also learned it’s okay not to like people and for people to not like you. The trick is to stop giving a fuck.
Focus on the people who care for you, and care back. Don’t trouble yourself about those who don’t.