Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!
The book that inspired this conversation:
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
(my thoughts to come closer to the release date)
(Goodreads | Amazon)
What It Is About:
“The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?
Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go Skinny Dipping? Um…”
What It Got Me Thinking About:
friendships & relationships, identity in relationships and how it gets so intertwined in them, finding your identity, being brave (even though I’m not going to talk about that in this post..maybe another?)
In Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson Emily’s best friend Sloane just takes off and leaves. To Emily, Sloane was the best part of her. They’d been BFFs for a couple years and they did everything together. When Sloane leaves, Emily is left feeling like a huge part of her is missing, rightly so, and she really has to find out who she is outside of Sloane. She finds herself struggling to do things like fill conversations because Sloane always was the outgoing one who knew what to say and she found it was hard to really so anything without Sloane by her side because Sloane gave her some of the bravery she seemed to lack. Especially since most people really only knew her as “that girl that’s always with Sloane.” She’s forgotten who she is outside of “Emily and Sloane” and has really let herself rely on Sloane’s presence for her identity.
It made me reflect on how EASY it is to get your identity so intertwined and entangled with people close to you and that you love. So much that you start to forget who you are apart from them. That happened to me with my old group of friends and I watched it happen to so many friends as they started dating and then getting married. While I don’t think Emily’s situation was necessarily unhealthy like maybe mine was, it still made me think a lot about defining who we are by who we are close with. It was enough that, when Sloane left, she realized she had no idea how to BE Emily anymore. Sloane had helped her find who she was and gotten her out of her shell but she struggled to exist apart from that.
I was friends with the same group of people from high school and then some of them even went to the same college as me and then the group came back together after we all were done college — adding in some new people that were part of our group in college who had stayed around the area. I’d say I was one of the “main” people in that group — a staple..not an outlier really if that makes sense. I loved that group of people and there was so many good times with them but I slowly started to realize I lost myself within that group. I was definitely the “different” one out of all of them and they seemed to be okay with that but I realized, in ways, they didn’t and slowly a lot of who I was slowly got snuffed out.
I remember making some new friends outside of the group and then they would say things about these new people that would make me feel like I was stupid for being friends with them yet I had FUN with these people, had great convo and had things in common. They made fun of my music. How I dressed. The guys I liked unless they were semi in the group. But it wasn’t outright mean or malicious, I’m sure it was mostly good-natured, but I kept toning things down to fit inside that group. I wanted to. I wanted to maintain being a part of that group because on campus it always seemed like our group, a group of mostly guys but a few girls, always had the most fun. I cared more about being part of that group at the time than I cared about some of those things that I gave up or pushed aside at that time — opinions, values, interests and hobbies.
I remember not knowing who to sit with if they weren’t there in the dining hall (most of them were on the men and women’s soccer team which is hilar because I’m like the least athletic person ever) and felt super timid. Or if they were all away for the weekend on a soccer trip I felt lost. I felt invincible in ways when I had the group with me. I had people. Most of my interests and plans were wrapped up in that group. I mean, I DID have other friends outside of that group and talked to A LOT of people but I never made these people a priority like I did this group. I let myself just get swallowed up by the group. Absorbed the way they thought, what they liked, how they acted, etc.
But then I started to miss those parts of me. I started to see behaviors that I didn’t actually enjoy anymore. I missed friends that I had given up for them. I was just frankly sick of a lot of things and had been hurt by some of the people and found some of it to be really unhealthy. There’s a lot more that went into it that could take me hours to tell you, and Gayle Forman’s Just One Day that honestly gave me the balls to do it, but I gave that group up slowly in 2012 but FOR REAL in January 2013. I decided to sever ties and be done. I had to…for myself. It was the right decision and I know that and I’ve even been able to be at peace about it and make amends with my bff from that group. But it was HARD.
It was like a limb had been cut off. All those instant plans…GONE. People to talk to. Years and years of memories just kind of faded. I was scared to have to make new friends because those people had known every single thing about me and knew all the things I had been through. It was easy in ways. But I was mostly scared because I knew I would have to get to know myself all over again. To remember who I was. To do the things I wanted to without group approval. Blogging, when I started in 2010, honestly was a huge catalyst in this because I found a community where I could be 100% unabashedly myself and it became the support I needed when I left the group. Made me believe in myself and help me to remember what I loved about ME and find who I was again. I had to be brave and take chances and sometimes even be uncomfortable but every time it got easier and I stopped caring about being anybody other than who I was. I let myself form my own opinions, enjoy the things I enjoyed before & now felt drawn to, become the person that was just struggling to come out in that time. It’s been scary and hard but I’ve enjoyed getting to really know myself all over again.
I saw so many friends do this in romantic relationships and regret it sometimes later and this is what I love about Will and I from day 1. We just have never done this. We are so strongly ourselves and have our own very unique identity but there is this beautiful way in which we ARE a unit. We love the things that make each other different from the other (okay I don’t LOVE the video games and he doesn’t LOVE the books but we love that we have THINGS to help us always be ourselves). I mean, sure, I would LOVE for Will to love more of the things I do and ditch a few of his interests in an ideal world but I would never want him to stop being him and lose himself. I stated this early on to Will, before we got married, that I never ever wanted to lose myself in a marriage because I saw it happen to people close to me. I never want to forget who I am.
And I think we’ve done a good job so far of encouraging each other to have our own things and to be our own people in this relationship. Never forgetting that yes we’ve become “one” in marriage but we are two hella different people with dreams and interests and opinions. And we deal with it just fine.
Will is definitely my other half and a big part of my world but I feel absolutely a whole person whose identity isn’t just in being “Jamie and Will” but I stand strongly just as Jamie and he stands strongly as Will. And I think we make each other stronger and our marriage stronger because of that.
I just know that I don’t ever want to lose myself again in another person or group. Ever. I’d rather be alone than bend myself into something I’m not. To push away the things that make me ME. I never ever want to forget or ignore who I am. Because I rather like being me.
Have you ever experienced losing your identity in someone else? Witnessed a friend or family member do it? If so, how did you find yourself again? Any other thoughts on this?