Day 133: Who am I in a Group? - Nothing Left but Memories

This post is a continuation to the blog post Day 132: Who am I in a Group? Clashes of cultures and so continuing with the memory on my High School Group.

In my previous posted I ended off talking about the group weekend that my math teacher had organized and how within only a few days we already saw some individuals 'crawling out of their shells' - allowing themselves to participate in ways they hadn't before.

One of the individuals whose behavior had started changing was the 'leader of the macho-guys'. Instead of becoming louder/more expressive/more visible, he had become more quiet, more serious, more 'down to Earth' - more genuine I suppose. There was one moment which kind of became a 'symbol' in our group. Closeby the building where we were staying, there was a very thick horizontal tree branch where we'd hang out once in a while. In that specific moment, I was sitting on the tree brach, my legs on either side. At some point the 'leader of the macho group' came sitting behind me, in the same position, facing the same direction, so that i was facing away from him and he was facing my back. I had my hands behind my back on the tree brach. And then with a simple movement, he took my hands and started fiddling with them. I'd had a moment of 'huh?' because I hadn't expected him to do something like this, but when I looked at it, I wasn't uncomfortable, so I let him. The fact that I wasn't uncomfortable may have been what I was suprised about, lol. This was a person that so far I'd utterly resented every time he'd shown his face or made a remark - as though he represented everything that was 'wrong' with this world - but in that moment, there was nothing - I didn't mind at all. We also didn't speak. It was a simple quiet moment and for the first time in his presense I was really comfortable and just here enjoying myself with the others around us. At some point people stopped and looked and later I found out some had taken pictures - because here was a scene that no one had expected. We ended up sitting there for quite a while, eventually just holding hands - still in the same position. It was turned into a symbol of how two apparent opposites were able to share and enjoy a moment together - and became a symbol of how as a group we had moved from separation to harmony.

Of course - when I say 'moved from separation to harmony' - it was more a perception, an experience - it was not so in an absolute way as this would require each one to remove the separations within themselves first.

As I wrote about this moment, I experienced nostalgia and sadness. I had come to define this moment as 'magical' within myself - it marked the end of me trying my best to avoid this person and wanting to have nothing to do with him, which was only based on superficial indicators of 'what kind of person he is' and 'what kind of person I am'. And at the same time it marked the beginning of a new relationship - one that lasted for a long time and was quite... well, that's for another blog, lol. I just had a realization about how my interpretation of this moment defined the rest of our relationship - so will definitely share it in a blog later on.

So - back to that weekend - the last evening, we had a specific activity that also left quite a 'mark' on the group so to speak. I don't remember the specifics of it - but we were basically all sitting in a circle. The room was quite dark with only candles, it was quite cozy, yet serious and focused. We each had a pice of paper and were asked to answer several questions. I remember one of them was how we saw ourselves in the group. It was meant as a moment of honesty and vulnerability. One by one we would sit in the middle of the cirlce and share what we wrote on the piece of paper, after which the group would then give us feedback. I don't remember anything in particular that was discussed - only that each one really tried to be 'as honest as they could' and put themselves on the spot and shared with the group on a level of intimacy that we had never done before. Many had gone into tears and there was an overall experience of support towards each one that shared their story. For myself, I remember being disappointed with the feedback I received. I ended up not saying what was on the piece of paper as I found the answers was not what I actually wanted to say. I shared that I felt that no one really knew me in the group and that I didn't know who I was in the group, because I was different with different people, where some knew me one way and others knew me in another - but felt that no one REALLY knew ME and that I had never really been myself or even knew what it would mean to 'be myself'. When people gave me feedback it was as though they had blocked out everything I had just said and instead said things like 'I see you as this carpe diem girl - every day just taking it as it is'. To me this feedback only confirmed what I had just said - because the person they were describing - that wasn't me, not really. And I saw at the same time that this wouldn't be changing any time soon. I saw that within and as this group, we could change up to a point - but there was a limit. Nonetheless, I adjusted myself to that and accepted the limitations we would be working with - and instead focused on what we did achieve, what did change, the people I had gotten to know or had gotten to know in a different way.

After this weekend - we felt like a group - and we behaved like a group. Every break the people we would spend time with would be different, we didn't stick to the previous 'clicks'. We acknowledged that some people we were closer to than others and that there are still 'subgroups' of people who share specific views and values - but we were all part of the same group and within that everyone was able to interact and have fun with everyone. The dynamics in the group had changed completely and we would feel it when someone wasn't there for a day - it was like the group was not whole - someone was being missed.

The person that had opted not to go with on the second weekend regretted it after seeing how the group had changed - nonetheless, he was 'absorbed' within the same group so to speak without a problem.

For the rest of that school year and the year after that we continued to be this one group - we were strong together despite our many differences and we were grateful for each other. In our final year we decided that we would meet up every year on the first of May, because it would be a holidy for the rest of our lives - labour day - everyone takes that day off. We vowed that we would ensure that we would keep in touch this way and wouldn't let what we had built wither away or fall apart.

After graduation, each one went their separate ways, different colleges, universities or jobs - different cities. Our paths would cross - some we remained good friends with and spent a lot of time with - but others we rarely saw. I think we met up twice on the first of May, two years in a row - where in the second year there were already less people showing up. After that, I don't think another first of May gathering was even attempted to be organized - because it was clear to everyone that the group was no more.

During the last gathering too much effort had to be put into trying to bring back memories and I was disappointed in how much people had changed - developed personalities, mannerisms, postures and behaviors that I found betrayed who they were - they were no longer the same people, as they had adapted and changed according to their new environments, their new 'place in life'. I was saddened because I felt I had lost those people that I had shared an amazing time with, I was sad because I felt that they had lost themselves and I was said that the connection we had sworn would remain forever, was just gone, was just given up on.