Tuesday, September 30, 2008

KIT (Keep In Touch)

Isn't that what everyone would write at the end of the school year in their yearbook entries, peppered with inside jokes and other, long forgotten acronyms? I used to be the queen of correspondence; usually by phone if not by post (cards, letters, etc.) I did all that I could to keep my few close friends apprised of my oh-so-very exciting life. Once email came along, it was even easier to dash off an email. I have always been sort of the "counselor" in my friendships, so I enjoyed trouble-shooting and discussing things with my friends. It was an important part of who I was. Things started to shift a bit once I entered medical school. I was so focused on my microcosm, sometimes months would go by without talking to my high school and college friends before I would even realize it. A well placed phone call, or two, and all was right in the friendship world once again.

In residency, I fell off of the proverbial friendship map. In the pre-80 hour a week era, I could work up to 120 hours a week (every other night 24 hours on call). It was in residency that I developed an odd social phobia involving the phone that I have to this very day. I just stopped answering it unless it was my mother or my husband. I stopped making simple calls like for pizza or take out entirely. I think that it stemmed from the fact that I *had* to answer the pager. I didn't have to answer the phone or call anyone if I so chose. It wasn't that I didn't *want* to talk to other people. It was that I *couldn't* talk to them. I just couldn't give any more of myself away. As a result, I slowly lost touch with friends that I loved very much, but to which I couldn't be a very good friend at the time. Next came parenthood, a new job with little time off, and another baby. There was not much time for extra socializing, though I realized that I needed adult friendships badly.

As I take the steps toward a new job, closer to friends and to family, I have also begun to reach out to old friends in an attempt to reconnect and apologize for being such a crappy friend to them. A rather recent discovery that has been great for this is facebook. I have gotten back in touch with old sorority sisters and my college roommates through this networking tool, and for that I am grateful. I've arranged a few tentative visits with important friends in my life that I haven't seen in 3 years or more. I feel like I am on my way to rebuilding these relationships, due in part to a few easy clicks of a mouse. So facebook worked for me, how do you stay in touch with your close friends that don't live near you?

8 comments:

  1. I love the "networking tool" (ahem facebook -- for me at least) for the same reasons you describe.

    In a similar way I also feel like the reason I hate the city in now is because I haven't had the time to explore it -- since I'm in med school. I haven't had the time to make new friends, or do all the things I used to enjoy before I went back to school.

    How's that for depressing at 5AM?

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  2. So interesting about your social phobia involving the phone.

    I have the same problem, except I won't even answer if it's my mother or sisters. Just my husband. The only way to contact me is email.

    I hadn't thought too much about why I'm like this, but I think you're right: it's all those years of being forced to promptly respond to that hellish pager beep. I now reject any form of communication that demands immediate response.

    I mentioned your post to my husband, who was fascinated that someone else has the same phone answering issue. I think he was relieved to hear an explanation for such weird behaviour.

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  3. wow!! A big a-ha moment for me. I'm also a phone-ophobic person, won't even call out for a pizza and my husband has thought that I'm weird because of that. Like you all, I carry a pager and get paged a lot when I'm not in house (hospital). Unlike you all though, I'm a pharmacist.

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  5. Great post! Thanks for reminding me to be patient with my residential friends. It's easy to feel slighted when they don't call or answer my calls. :o)

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  6. Coming out of lurkdom to comment. I've been enjoying this blog for a few weeks now. It's refreshing to hear the perspective of intelligent women that are balancing career and family. I'm an ICU nurse (very part time) and my sister is in her 4th year of med school - she is now a reader as well.

    Anyway, I had to laugh over the phone-phobia because that perfectly described a phase I went through. It takes a lot of emotional energy to keep up with people. In a lot of ways, email is ideal for me because then I can choose whether or not to answer and when to do it. Caller ID was the best investment ever (even though it took me a long time to convince my hubby of that) because I can take that deep breath and brace myself before answering a call from a high maintenance person or work, or ignore it all together.

    I haven't joined facebook yet, but it seems like the whole world has. I just might get brave enough to do it.

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  7. Has anyone else lost the patience not only for the phone but for small talk too? Working full time and with 3 kids, studying to re-certify etc.. I can't stand standing around the kindergarten playground and talking to the other parents...doesn't bode well for making new friends but I just want to jump out of my skin, and I used to be a talkative person with an active social life not sure what is wrong; me or them

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  8. My husband speaks to my family more than I do! Another reason for mommy/daughter guilt, but now I understand why - I think you're absolutely right!

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