Once upon a time on my trip out East, I was walking with a friend and a friend-of-a-friend through a supermarket. A mundane environment, with non-mundane (and that's in a very good way) friends. And I was feeling mundane.
I realized I felt "off": I felt that I wasn't adding much, that my contributions to the conversation as we walked were not interesting enough, that I was being a tad boring, that I wasn't being thoughtful or funny or the Bestest Friend EVAR and stuff like that.
I then thought Wait, Chris: your feeling "off" implies that you feel the need to be "on." That you need to be thoughtful and funny and the Bestest Friend EVAR and somesuch. No, Chris, what that really means is: you're trying too hard.
One of the great joys of friendships is, you shouldn't have to try too hard. You shouldn't have to be "on," at least not all the time. Friendship often involves hanging out with people, people who know your good points and bad points and strong points and weak points, and they still like you, because your whole personality package is compelling to them. (This is why it's so good and helpful for future lovers and partners to be friends first, to like each other. You're likely to have a stronger bond, from just hanging out and talking and finding out what's weird about each other. The friendship bond is on a different level than the bond of finding each other attractive enough to [insert your favorite slang for gettin' it on]. Ideally both levels of bonds happen between partners; if the intimate part of the relationship ends, as it sometimes does, having the friendship bond makes it more likely that the friendship part survives, that you still like each other afterwards.)
To get back to what I was thinking in that supermarket, I thought So, Chris: let yourself be in the moment. Just be. Your friend is not going to suddenly start thinking Ugh; this guy isn't really all that interesting, so I shouldn't be his friend. If a friend thought that, that person isn't really a friend. This person is a friend. The two of you have been through a lot together. You've seen each other at great moments and bad moments. You'll see each other through dramatic moments and mundane moments. This is a mundane moment. They happen. No one's meant to be exciting all of the time.
Don't worry about being exciting. Be Chris. You're good at that.
So I let myself just be Chris. I let myself just be. I relaxed. And the day went better from there. And I realized that quickly. And I was relieved, so I was more relaxed, and I was (I hope) more open, and things worked better.
I like making things work better.
(I'd been meaning to write this entry; reading something this morning by zarhooie inspired me to write it finally.)