On Becoming A Woman Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Teen-age Companions

 

This chapter starts off along the same lines of chapter 11. The author talks about how your friendships change as you get older. They do change, but I don’t know anyone who ever had this particular trajectory.  The author says that when we were children we may have had playmates we really liked, but we took these “playmates” pretty much for granted.

That wasn’t how it was for me at all. I had such a hard time making friends as a child that any friend I made was something to be thankful for.

In fact, you made very little effort to select your friends. You simply became friendly and companionable with all children of your own age who happened to go to your school or to your church, or who happened to live in your neighborhood.

 

Making friends was something very hard for me. I made very much effort to make the ones I had. I did not take any friend for granted.

 

But now that you have reached teen age, friends have taken on a new significance. This is largely because, being older, you select your friends in harmony with your own preferences rather than as a matter of course.

I’m confused. Did the Author think that I was just friends with everyone at school? Because, um, I wasn’t. Is that how it works for everyone else?

The desire for companionship has been implanted by an all-wise creator, who recognized that “it is not good that the man should be alone.” Gen. 2:18.

We are hard wired for friends, but not by an all powerful all knowing God. I don’t actually know how humans came to be such social creatures, but I’m sure it’d be a fascinating read.

This present interest in social things serves as a means of your becoming acquainted with other young people. It will enable you to make a wise choice of a life’s companion when the time comes for you to accept an offer of marriage.

Huh? I’m confused. Hanging out with other people you’re own age is a good thing because… Marriage? Which of course you will be accepting. Women who make marriage proposals are repulsive.

At this age your friendships with your girl chum and with other girls in your social group have meant more to you than your friendships with boys.

Meh, not really. I was just as willing to make friends with boys as I was with girls.

The author goes on to say that same sex friendships are very important, and that we were probably very close. The few girl friends I had were very close to me, yes.

But if you have been wise, you have not allowed your friendship with your girl chum to make you snobbish in your dealings with other girls.

Huh?

It is not best for you to allow this close friendship to deprive you entirely of association with the other girls of your own group and age. For your own good you need to have a fairly wide circle of friends.

In principle I agree. However, I feel like this shames people who have very few friends. It may very well not be the person’s fault at all.

If you fail to develop friendships with the larger group, there is danger that you will become selfish and think more of your own interests than of the possibilities for helping others.

Yanno, it occurs to me that I can’t be the only one with this problem. These books were written for an SDA audience. SDA schools tend to be very small, sometimes very very small. At one point I went to a one room school with 6 other students where the teacher and principal were the same person.

Among those 6 students, 3 of them were little kids. So that’s 3 other girls I could have made friends with (there was only 2 boys in the entire school, and they were little kids).

I failed, for the most part, to make a wide network of friends, at least pre high school. How many other people can say the same thing? How many other people went to SDA schools, couldn’t make friends with a single one of the 3 eligible students, and read this book feeling a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach?

Making friends is not always under your control. It takes at least 2 people to form a friendship. And sometimes, for whatever reason, people just aren’t agreeable.

It is by your friendships with larger groups of girls that your personality undergoes a “polishing” process that smooths away certain of the rough corners. Teenage girls are usually quite frank in their dealings with one another. When your friends observe that you have certain peculiarities they will tell you about these, giving you an opportunity to modify the traits that antagonize others. This process of giving and taking is wholesome and will teach you to be less sensitive and more agreeable.

Some teenagers are very frank. And some are not. It really depends on the person.

The author then goes on to tell us that there will come a time in our lives when we will be interested in, gasp boys! Eventually we will even find one boy in particular we like better than our girl friends! Having already talked about homosexuality, we of course aren’t going to ever mention it again, so there is no mention here of having a non platonic girlfriend.

At first you discuss your interest in boys with your girl friends. If they approve of your boyfriend, well and good. If they don’t approve, however, you have to choose between them and your boy toy. Whether or not your girl friends are right about said boy toy is irrelevant.

This will simply mean that your loyalties have shifted in preparation for the time when you will establish your won home…the fact that your loyalties have shifted will indicate that you are approaching the time when your first allegiance will be properly reserved for the one who will become your husband.

Ladies, your first priority is always your husband. No exceptions. Not, I dunno, your children, your god, or even yourself.

Now that we have traced the sequence through which you will pass in your establishing of friendships, it is time that we back up a bit to discuss the significance of these friendships.

No you didn’t. My life didn’t resemble anything like what you have described. And it’s not just because I’m an aro-ace. From age 3 to age 21 you have described nothing of anyone’s life so far.

The author talks a bit about loyalty, and I wonder if he’s a Hufflepuff. Then he goes on to say that we look to our friends for approval. It’s like how when you get a new dress, you are anxious to see what your friends say. If they like it, you wear it often. If your friends don’t like the cut or color, you save it only for “second rate occasions” whatever the fuck that means.

Actually no, Shryock, I don’t give a A FUCK what my friends say about my clothes. Never have. I had this bright pink zip up hoodie in high school that my best friend HATED. She called it “that awful pink thing.” I wore it anyway, because I liked it and it wasn’t her business anyway.

Anyone who cares that much about what her friends say about her clothes has got to be really really insecure. She needs to develop some self confidence.

In any case, the author says, one tends to mimic their friends. If, for example, your friend is very studious, you are likely to be studious also. On the other hand, if your friend cares more about having  fun than getting good grades, you find yourself almost trying to get a failing grade.

The author is using this as an example of how we must choose our friends wisely. I think this is an example of why you shouldn’t try to imitate your friends in every way possible. You need to develop a life of your own, regardless of what your friends think about it. It is possible for a studious person to be friends with someone who performs poorly at school. It is even possible to do this without letting your own grades suffer.

The author uses the term “bookworm” as if it is used as an insult. Since when has bookworm been an insult? I always thought it was a synonym of “bibliophile.”

This human trait of craving the approval of one’s social group becomes such an important factor in your life that it can even modify your attitude toward religion.

Here we go, this is the crux of the matter. The entire reason Shryock wrote this chapter. He tells us that if your friends are very religious, you will be too. If your friends are not so serious about their religion, you too will be flippant. It is this precise attitude that, at various times in my life, led me to sever friendships and isolate myself. To anyone who knew me my freshman year of high school: I’m sorry. I know that I have hurt people very much.

Normal teenagers crave the approval of their companions

Yes, yes I did. However, I wasn’t willing to change myself in order to win it. Maybe some teenagers are, I don’t know, but I feel like in general this chapter is just very insulting, thinking that teenagers are like sheep who will follow their friends in just about everything no matter what. Give the young people some credit.

In any case, teenagers craving their friends’ approval is the reason parents feel their teenage daughters get rebellious.

The teenager doesn’t really intend to rebel against the wishes and ideals of her parents, but when these are in conflict with the attitudes of her companions there is the possibility that she will prefer the sanction of her friends to that of her parents.

I’m just going to be clear here, I absolutely wanted to rebel against the wishes and ideals of my parents. My sophomore year of Academy was when I decided SDAism was largely bullshit. My sophomore year of high school, all my close friends were conservative SDAs.

It is very important to choose your friends wisely, because you are, pretty much, entrusting them with your future. In choosing a friend, you should ask yourself if they are the type of person you’d like to be. If the answer is yes, make friends with them. Otherwise, don’t.

But you say, “the young people in my community all have different ideals from those of my parents. They think my parents are strait-laced and that I am peculiar because I won’t do all the things they like to do. How can I choose ideal friends under such circumstances?”

First, understand here that the author isn’t referring to kids who do a lot of hard drugs or habitually commit crimes. He is referring to teenagers who, say, go to the movies on Sabbath. Who go to the movies at all, actually. Or perhaps he’s referring to other Adventists who, perhaps, allow their women to wear pants, whereas your parents believe you should only wear skirts. He leaves it pretty vague and open to interpretation, probably so the teenager can fill in the blanks and feel guilty for something.

It is actually better for you not to develop intimate friendships than for your friendships to be cultivated with those whose ideals and standards are lower than yours.

Yikes. He pretty much says it’s better to have no friends than to have close non religious friends. How isolating. This book has done a lot of damage, I think. Not only is it unhealthy to have no close friends, it’s very healthy to have close friends who aren’t exactly like you. Being friends with people who are different than you is not only a good skill to have, it makes you a better person. Also, it’s called not being an asshole.

If there are no young people in the community with the same ideals as you, it’s probably a good idea for you to go to boarding school. The author doesn’t tell you what you should do if this is financially impossible, but he does tell you that even at Academy you need to be careful, because your standards may still be higher than other SDAs.

I knew this girl at boarding school. We’ll call her Kelly. Kelly was super sheltered and came from an ultra conservative family. Her family only allowed her to wear skirts, unless she was doing some sort of physical activity(they were a little more permissive than the Duggars). They wouldn’t allow her to attend history class at the Academy because they thought the teacher used too much TV, and she threw a hissy fit when her teacher made her go to the gymnastics performance, at which they were playing, gasp, techno music! Kelly had friends, but I can’t honestly think of anyone at the school who had the same standards she did. She must have felt very lonely, at times. I can empathize with her now, but back then, I just found her mildly annoying.

The author goes on to talk about how your religious beliefs tend to conform to that of your friend. So, I guess that’s his answer on whether or not I should befriend a Muslim.

You are not being snobbish simply because you choose your friends carefully.

In this case, yes, you are. That’s what we call it when someone will only befriend someone who’s religious ideals are like theirs.

Another reason to choose your friends carefully is that you will be stereotyped along with them. If your friend is known as someone who’ll hop in the sack with any guy who asks, you too will be known as a slut. I think this is just an example of how grown ups shouldn’t be judgey bitches, but whatever.

The author then goes on to spout some absolute nonsense

It is probable that many of your companions of future years will be selected from among these friends of your teens.

Actually, most books I’ve read say that the amount of friends you carry forward into adulthood is very very low. Among the many friends I had when I was a teen, I only talk to one now, and we’re not close.

If you need help choosing friends and you live at home, you can invite the person over for dinner. If your parents approve, then you chose wisely.  If you’re at boarding school, it’s a good idea to ask the counselor.

Some young people hesitate to seek such counsel, reasoning that they are wise enough to choose their own friends. I have known many, however, who have taken this precaution, with the result that they have been much happier in the long run.

If I had gone to my guidance counselor and asked him who he thought I should be friends with, he would have looked at me utterly baffled. Now, if I was having problems, the Dean probably would have been there to listen and offer advice, but I don’t think any adult at GLAA would’ve sat there and listed out all the potential friends. They kind of expected you to fend for yourself at least a little bit.

The author then goes on to reduce teenagers to objects. If you had a piece of cloth to be made into a dress, of course you’d seek opinions before you took it to a tailor. You’re more valuable than a dress, so you should do the same thing.

I am not a dress.

You have only one life to live on this earth, and your choice of friends determines in a large measure whether your future will be a happy and successful one. Why should you hesitate, then, to seek counsel in such an important matter?

Look, I cared about my high school friends very much. They were very dear to me. However, once high school was over, we went our separate ways. Have they been there to help me post high school? Sometimes, yes. Do they have a large part to play in my life now, as I approach my ten year anniversary of graduation? No, they don’t. The fear mongering here is just absurd.

I’m not saying you should never seek out advice from someone about your friends. If you feel a need to talk to someone about whether or not the friendship is unhealthy, by all means, do so. However, you do not need to isolate yourself nearly as much as the author thinks you do.

Anyway that’s all for this installment. Tune in next time to read about *drumroll* fantasizing!

 

 

 

 

 

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